Bannon Changes His Tone When Questioned About His Part in "Fire and Fury"

Steve Bannon expressed regret Sunday after he created a furor with comments critical of President Donald Trump's family in a new book, dragging the controversy into its fifth day as the White House kept up its attacks on both the former chief strategist and “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff.

"Donald Trump, Jr. is both a patriot and a good man. He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around," Bannon said in a statement. "I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr has diverted attention from the president's historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency."

Wolff quoted Bannon in "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" as saying that the decision by several members of the president's family and campaign staff to attend a meeting with a Russian lawyer who had offered to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton was "treasonous" and "unpatriotic."

Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and onetime campaign chief Paul Manafort attended the June 2016 gathering. Bannon was also quoted as saying special counsel Robert Mueller would "crack Don Jr. like an egg on national TV."

In his statement Sunday, first obtained by Axios, Bannon said the comments about the Trump Tower meeting were actually meant to criticize Manafort, not Trump Jr.

"My comments were aimed at Paul Manafort, a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate. He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends. To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr.," he said.