Under fire, Bannon backs off explosive comments about Trump's son

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's former strategist Steve Bannon on Sunday sought to back away from derogatory comments ascribed to him about Trump's son in a controversial book that sparked White House outrage and could threaten his job.

Bannon, who was ousted from the White House in August, was quoted in "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," by journalist Michael Wolff, as saying a June 2016 meeting with a group of Russians attended by Donald Trump Jr. and his father’s top campaign officials was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”

The president said Bannon had lost his mind, and the White House suggested the hard-right news site Breitbart News should part ways with him as its executive chairman.

RELATED: Members past and present of Trump's inner circle

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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
Hope Hicks: Former White House Director of Strategic Communications
Melania Trump: Wife to President Trump and first lady of the United States
Gary Cohn: Former Director of the U.S. National Economic Council
Michael Flynn: Former National Security Advisor, no longer with the Trump administration
Ivanka Trump: First daughter and presidential adviser
Gen. John Kelly: Former Secretary of Homeland Security, current White House chief of staff
Steve Bannon: Former White House chief strategist, no longer with the Trump administration
Jared Kushner: Son-in-law and senior adviser
Kellyanne Conway: Former Trump campaign manager, current counselor to the president
Reince Priebus: Former White House chief of staff, no longer with the Trump administration
Anthony Scaramucci: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: White House press secretary
Donald Trump Jr.: First son to President Trump
Sean Spicer: Former White House press secretary, soon to be no longer with the Trump administration
Jeff Sessions: U.S. attorney general
Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of Treasury
Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman
Carter Page: Former foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign
Omarosa Manigault: Former Director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison
Jason Miller: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Mike Dubke: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Stephen Miller: Trump senior policy adviser
Corey Lewandowski: Former Trump campaign manager
Eric Trump: Son to President Trump
Rex Tillerson: Former Secretary of State
Sebastian Gorka: Former deputy assistant to the president in the Trump administration, no longer in his White House role
Roger Stone: Former Trump campaign adviser, current host of Stone Cold Truth
Betsy DeVos: U.S. Education Secretary
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"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 released on Sunday, adding that his comments were directed at Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, and not aimed at the president's son.

"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," Bannon said. (Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Howard Goller)

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