US President Donald Trump’s decision to fire former FBI chief James Comey was the biggest mistake in “modern political history,” says former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.
Speaking to CBS in an interview that was aired on Sunday, Bannon said Comey’s dismissal in early May was the main reason Trump’s “Russia collusion” case was blown out of proportions.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel,” Bannon said, referring to Robert Mueller, who has been leading the high-profile investigation into Trump and his associate’s ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“We would not have the Mueller investigation, we would not have a Mueller investigation in the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going in,” Bannon argued.
Trump has dismissed allegations that the decision to fire Comey had anything to do with the Russia investigation, claiming that it only marked a “new beginning” at America’s “crown jewel of law enforcement.”
His critics on both sides of aisle, however, don’t buy his account and insist that the move amounted to a clear “obstruction of justice.” Reports emerged in May that Comey had refused Trump’s request to end an investigation into alleged ties between Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, with a Russian diplomat.
Flynn was fired in February over undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the US.
There are also claims that the decision was rooted in last year’s presidential election, when Comey’s FBI dropped all charges against Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in her infamous personal email server case.
The decision angered Trump, who had suggested Clinton should be in “jail” for exchanging thousands of potentially confidential emails during her tenure as the secretary of state through a personal email server at her house.
Bannon said Sunday that he did not believe firing Comey would have changed in any way the “institutional logic of the FBI and particularly in regards to an investigation.”
The 63-year-old strategist and close Trump ally, who is often labeled as a white supremacist, left the White House in mid-August, as the result of a long-running power clash.