Bannon in September: 'Russian Collusion Is a Farce'

Susan Jones | January 4, 2018 | 6:30am EST
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Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon on CBS's "60 Minutes" (Screen Capture)

( - In September, in his first interview after leaving the White House, Steve Bannon told CBS's “60 Minutes” that the FBI investigation into alleged Russian collusion was a "total and complete farce."

"Russian collusion is a farce," Bannon told then-correspondent Charlie Rose.

"Did the Russians try to influence the election?" Rose asked Bannon, who served as Trump campaign CEO and later, as chief strategist to the president.

"If you consider maybe something they the DNC--" Bannon started to answer, but Rose interrupted him.

"Have you seen the intelligence reports?" Bannon asked Rose, who said no.

"Okay, fine," Bannon told Rose. "So you don't know."

"I have seen the intelligence reports," Bannon continued. "I would never devolve classified information on this show. But let me tell you, I think it's far from conclusive that the Russians had any impact on this election."

On Wednesday, The Guardian released excerpts from the new book "Fire and Fury" by Michael Wolff, who quoted Bannon as describing a pre-election meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump, Jr. and several Russians as "treasonous" and "unpatriotic."

Speaking about the Don Jr. meeting, Bannon reportedly told Wolff: “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

According to the Guardian: "Bannon also speculated that Trump Jr had involved his father in the meeting.  'The chance that Don Jr did not walk these (Russian) jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero,'" the newspaper quoted from Wolff's book.

Bannon reportedly told Wolff that the Russia investigation will focus on money laundering: “You realize where this is going,” Bannon said. “This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first, and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr. and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

Bannon also had unflattering words about Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner. The book also describes a dysfunctional White House and its supposedly incompetent leader.

President Trump issued a statement Wednesday responding to Bannon's critical comments, and later, Trump's attorney issued a "cease and desist" order against Bannon.

Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency," Trump wrote.

When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican Party.

Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn't as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn't represent my base — he's only in it for himself.

Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.

We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.

Reaction to the Bannon slams is coming from both right and  left:

"Who does this help?" asked conservative commentator Laura Ingraham on her Fox News show Wednesday night. "With these statements, Bannon has given basically credence to the worst conspiracy theories of the impeach Trump forces."

Ingaham speculated that Bannon probably will be called to testify before the congressional committees investigating Russian influence: "I know Steve Bannon. Is that what he wants?" she asked.

"Fellows, it doesn't really make sense for a high-profile adviser and his former boss to publicly attack each other when the stakes are this high. How does that make any sense? And aren't you kind of playing right into the hands of the Democrats and the media who are hoping for nothing more than your mutually assured destruction?"

Over on CNN, Jake Tapper noted that the White House and the Republican Party "have risen up to attack Bannon and author Wolff, while laughably suggesting that Bannon only played a small role and had little influence in the White House. Some Bannon-allied politicians are distancing themselves from him. All while establishment Republicans giggle and Democrats are bringing in bowls of popcorn," Tapper said.

Beyond the Bannon comments, Wolff's book portrays the Trump White House as dysfunctional; and Trump himself as incompetent, idiotic and dumb, the same narrative that many Democrats and liberal media personalities have been plugging since Trump won the presidential election.

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