Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former chief strategist and executive chairman of the far-right publication Breitbart News, had a terrible, awful, no good, very bad week.
On Wednesday, news broke that Bannon described a meeting between several top Trump campaign officials and a group of Russian nationals with close Kremlin ties as “treasonous” and unpatriotic,” according to “Fire and Fury,” an explosive new book on the Trump White House by author Michael Wolff.
Bannon singled out President Donald Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who attended the meeting after being informed that the Russians would provide information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,” Bannon reportedly said.
Since this news broke, Bannon has found himself increasingly alone in the world. Trump put out a statement claiming that his former chief strategist “has nothing to do with me or my Presidency” and that Bannon “spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was.”
The wealthy Mercer family, which has funded Bannon’s work in the past and owns a stake in Breitbart News, suggested in their own statement that he is dead to them. “I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected,” Rebekah Mercer said. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements.”
Even Bannon’s job at Breitbart may be in danger. Mercer noted her equity interest in the publication, which has close ties to the so-called “alt-right” and white nationalism, in her statement — a move many interpreted as an implicit threat to fire Bannon.
Now, after days of watching his influence, and potentially his, job slip from his grasp, Bannon appears eager to make nice with his former allies. In a statement first reported by Axios, Bannon says that his support for Trump is “unwavering” and that his comments about the Russia meeting were not intended to implicate Donald Trump Jr.
“Donald Trump, Jr. is both a patriot and a good man,” Bannon said in the statement. “My comments were aimed at Paul Manafort, a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate. He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends. To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr.”
It remains to be seen whether Trump will welcome Bannon back into his good graces or continue to punish the man who spoke ill of him and his family.