Stephen Bannon slammed President Donald Trump during his first extended interview since he was ousted as the president's top strategist last month, calling his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey perhaps the greatest mistake in “modern political history."
“Someone said to me that you described the firing of James Comey, you're a student of history, as the biggest mistake in political history,” interviewer Rose said to Bannon in their interview, posted online last night.
"That would be probably -- that probably would be too bombastic even for me, but maybe modern political history," Bannon replied.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 11, 2017
Bannon acknowledged that had Comey not been fired, the Justice Department investigation into Russian election interference would likely not have been handed over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
"I don't think there's any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel, yes," he said. "We would not have the Mueller investigation. We would not have the Mueller investigation and the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going for."
Despite his complaint, Bannon said he planned to be the president’s “wingman outside for the entire time” he is in office. “Our purpose is to support Donald Trump,” he said. “I cannot take the fight to who we have to take the fight to when I’m an adviser to the president as a federal government employee.”
— Brad Ripka (@bradripka) September 11, 2017
Trump fired Comey on May 9, an action which, many legal experts say, constitutes grounds for an investigation of Trump for possible obstruction of justice. A New York Times report the following Monday revealed that Trump asked Comey to halt the criminal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who provided false information about his communications with the Russian government. Flynn resigned in disgrace after the news of his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States, became public.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, according to a memo Comey wrote immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Flynn resigned. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with Trump as part of a paper trail documenting the president’s “improper” efforts to impede the continuing investigation, which is part of a larger probe into whether Trump and his associates colluded with Russian operatives to win last year’s presidential election.