Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said in a new interview with “60 Minutes” that the firing of James Comey as FBI director was the “biggest mistake in modern political history.”
In an unaired portion of the interview, Charlie Rose asked Bannon a line of questions about Comey’s May 9 firing and the subsequent hiring of Robert Mueller as special counsel.
“Someone said to me that you described the firing of James Comey as the biggest mistake in political history,” Rose told Bannon.
“That would probably be too bombastic even for me, but maybe modern political history,” replied Bannon, who resumed his position as chairman of Breitbart News after he left the White House last month.
“The firing of James Comey was the biggest mistake in modern political history?” Rose repeated.
“If you’re saying that that’s associated with me then I’ll leave it at that,” Bannon said.
Bannon also said that “there’s no doubt” that Comey’s firing set the stage for Mueller, a former FBI director, to be hired to oversee the Russia investigation.
Had Comey remained on the job, “we would not have the Mueller investigation, would not have the Mueller investigation in the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going,” Bannon said.
Bannon also said that he does not believe that Mueller should be fired, an idea that Trump has reportedly discussed with some advisers. Asked about those reports, Bannon said “there’s nothing I ever heard like that.”
Comey’s firing, which came about a week after he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, set off a chain reaction that led to Mueller’s appointment as special counsel.
Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a member of the Trump campaign, had recused himself from the Russia investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was in charge of making decisions related to the probe. But Rosenstein came under fire because of a letter he wrote to Trump supporting Comey’s firing. Rosenstein responded by choosing Mueller to directly oversee the sprawling Russia inquiry.
Bannon was also asked about reports that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner supported Comey’s firing. But the operative avoided the question, saying that “they’ll have to find that out either through the media or through the investigation. I don’t know.”