Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, said in a TV interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes that firing former FBI Director James Comey was a political mistake, as it led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation.
Interviewer Charlie Rose asked Bannon whether it was true that he had privately described the firing of James Comey “as the biggest mistake in political history.”
“That probably would be too bombastic even for me, but maybe modern political history,” Bannon responded.
But Bannon agreed that if Comey had not been fired, Mueller would not have been appointed.
“True,” he said. ” I don’t think there’s any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel, yes.”
Bannon would not openly confirm whether he was in favor of firing Comey, but he noted media reports that said he was adamantly opposed to it and did not refute those reports.
He notably would not confirm, however, whether the media were right in reporting that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was in favor of firing Comey.
“You guys have to … find that out either through the media or through investigation. I don’t know,” he said.
A recent New York Times article that detailed the events that led to Comey’s firing, said, “Mr. [Stephen] Miller and Mr. Kushner both told the president that weekend that they were in favor of firing Mr. Comey.”
Bannon described Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and whether there was any collusion with the Trump campaign as “directionally” very different from when Comey was leading it.
“We would not have the Mueller investigation. We would not have the Mueller investigation and the breadth that, clearly, Mr. Mueller is going for,” Bannon said.
He did not give details, but it is now widely known that Comey had privately told Trump three times that he was not personally under investigation.
Mueller, on the other hand, has been reportedly looking into whether there was obstruction of justice on Trump’s part, as well as his prior business dealings that fall outside the scope of Russian meddling.
The team of lawyers Mueller has put together for the investigation is also loaded with donors to the Democratic National Committee and to Democratic candidates, including to Hillary Clinton.
Still, Bannon said he does not believe Mueller should be fired and that there have been no discussions in the White House about firing him.
“I would not tell you about discussions in the White House, but I would tell you–I–nothing I ever heard like that,” he said.