President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey was perhaps the greatest mistake in “modern political history,” former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon suggested in an interview broadcast Sunday night.
Bannon was somewhat cagey in his conversation with CBS’s Charlie Rose as to his true feelings on Comey’s firing, saying only that “it's been reported in the media that I was adamantly opposed to” the dismissal. But 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.”
“Someone said to me that you described the firing of James Comey, you're a student of history, as the biggest mistake in political history,” Rose asked Bannon in their interview, taped last week, to which the former chief strategist replied, “that probably would be too bombastic even for me, but maybe modern political history.”
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.
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.
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.”