WASHINGTON — Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon dominated Monday’s White House press briefing as press secretary Sarah Sanders fielded question after question about the departed adviser’s “60 Minutes” interview.
Bannon, who is back at the helm of Breitbart News, told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan are blocking Trump’s agenda and that firing former FBI Director James Comey was the worst mistake in “modern political history.”
Sanders faced at least 10 questions about the interview. “We may be answering more questions on Steve Bannon now that he’s not here than when we was,” the White House press secretary remarked at one moment.
She disagreed with the notion that McConnell and Ryan are working against Trump and said that the president is committed to working with congressional leadership. Bannon said during the interview that Trump’s decision to roll back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty program with a six-month delay will cause a “civil war” within the Republican Party.
Sanders shot down this notion, and added, “Steve likes to speak in the most extreme measures.” (RELATED: Steve King: Trump Made ‘Solomon-esque’ Decision With DACA As Congress Struggles With Next Step)
As for whether Bannon was right that firing Comey was a mistake, Sanders replied that “the president was right in firing Director Comey.” Bannon said the firing of Comey was a mistake as it led to hiring of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is now conducting a broad investigation, including reportedly looking into the finances of Trump and his associates.
Sanders, however, said, “Since the director’s firing, we learned new information about his conduct that only provided further justification for that firing.”
She said this includes “giving false testimony, leaking privileged information to journalists,” and politicizing “an investigation into a presidential candidate.”
The false testimony Sanders is referring to is likely Trump’s attorney’s denial that the president asked Comey to “let” the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn “go.” False testimony is punishable with prison time, and Sanders said this is something the Justice Department would have to investigate.