US President Donald Trumps decision to fire Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey was perhaps the greatest mistake in “modern political history”, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has suggested in an interview.
Bannon made the statement during an online segment of his interview with “60 Minutes” broadcast on Sunday.
Trump fired Comey last May, a decision that the White House initially said was made based on a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as a result of Comey’s handling of the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.
But the President contradicted that explanation days later in an interview with NBC News, in which he said he had made up his mind to fire Comey before receiving Rosenstein’s recommendation and that his decision had been made with the FBI’s Russia investigation weighing on his mind.
Bannon went on to elaborate that he believes Washington is a “city of institutions, not individuals” and that “I don’t believe that the institutional logic of the FBI, and particularly in regards to an investigation, could possibly be changed by changing out the head of it”.
Had Comey never been fired, Bannon told CBS, the bureau’s Russia investigation would not have metastasized into the special investigation currently being led by Robert Mueller.
Bannon said he did not believe Mueller should be fired and that he was never privy to conversations on that potentiality during his White House tenure, the report said.
But while he told CBS he believes Mueller should be allowed to continue conducting his investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in last year’s presidential election, as well as allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin in those efforts, Bannon was clear that the special prosecutor’s probe will turn up nothing incriminating.
“There’s nothing to the Russia investigation. It’s a waste of time,” Bannon said. “It’s a total and complete farce. Russian collusion is a farce.”
Asked why the President seems to find it hard to criticise the Russians, Bannon disagreed with the characterisation, the report said.
“He criticises the Russians all the time,” Bannon said, adding “He knows the Russians are not good guys”.
The former White House official also slammed national security officials in the previous George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations who denounced Trump as President.
“This is once again where the narrative is dead wrong,” Bannon said, adding that it was the “geniuses” of the Bush administration that helped cause the trade imbalance with China and the US involvement in Iraq.
Bannon was ousted in mid-August amid a reshuffling of power within the White House.
He has since returned to his role as executive chairman at Breitbart News.