Ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon opened up about one of the biggest scandals so far of Donald Trump’s presidency during a “60 Minutes” interview with CBS News’ Charlie Rose that aired on Sunday.
During the interview, Rose told Bannon, “Someone said to me that you described the firing of [former FBI director] James Comey — you’re a student of history — as the biggest mistake in political history.”
“That would probably be too bombastic, even for me, but maybe modern political history,” Bannon replied.
“The firing of James Comey was the biggest mistake in modern political history,” Rose clarified.
Bannon said: “If you’re saying that that’s associated with me, then I’ll leave it at that.”
It was reported that in the days leading up to Trump’s bombshell decision to fire Comey in early May, Bannon argued strongly against dismissing the FBI director.
RELATED: Photos of Steve Bannon
White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon speaks with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive for their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks walk along the colonnade ahead of a joint press conference by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (R) and Senior Counselor Steve Bannon board Air Force One at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon (L) and senior aide Kellyanne Conway speak at meeting hosted by Trump with cyber security experts in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
FILE PHOTO: Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon (L) sits with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (C) and senior advisor Stephen Miller during a swearing-in ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump signs a memorandum to security services directing them to defeat the Islamic State in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. Pictured with him are White House senior advisor Steve Bannon (L-R), National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Vice President Mike Pence, Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist for US President-elect Donald Trump, talks on the phone outside Trump Tower in New York on December 9, 2016.
(DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (R) and senior counselor Steve Bannon (L) hold meetings at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign CEO Steve Bannon is pictured backstage during a campaign event in Eau Claire, Wisconsin U.S. November 1, 2016.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign CEO Steve Bannon (R) is pictured talking to a reporter after a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. October 29, 2016.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign CEO Steve Bannon holds a campaign rally the Reno-Sparks Convention Center November 5, 2016 in Reno, Nevada. With less than a week before Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign CEO Steve Bannon (C) listens to Trump speak during his final campaign rally on Election Day in the Devos Place November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trump’s marathon last day of campaigning stretched past midnight and into Election Day.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Steve Bannon gets off the plane with US President-elect Donald Trump arrives at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Kentucky, for the start of the ‘USA Thank You Tour’ at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 1, 2016.
(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Steve Bannon, chief strategist for Donal Trump, leaves after the motorcade of US President-elect arrived at Trump Tower on December 10, 2016 in New York.
(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Steve Bannon, (L) chief strategist for Donal Trump, exits Trump Tower on December 13, 2016 in New York.
(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Steve Bannon, senior counselor to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, arrives to attend meetings between Trump and business leaders at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.
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At the time, Comey was spearheading the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which included probing whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the election in his favor. As Trump fumed over the investigation, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner backed the idea of firing Comey, arguing that Democrats would not be able to criticize the move after they lambasted Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Bannon disagreed. “You can’t fire the FBI,” he said, according to one White House official’s account to New York Magazine.
The decision ultimately backfired, prompting deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein to tap former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel in charge of the investigation.
“The FBI is an institution,” Bannon told Rose during Sunday’s interview. “The Speaker of the House is an institution. The [Senate] majority leader is an institution. The Justice Department is an institution. They have an institutional logic of how they proceed and what they’re going to do. And you can’t get caught up in individuals.”
Rose pointed out, however, that despite characterizing the Speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader as institutions, Bannon had announced he wanted to go to war against them and the GOP establishment.
“You want to go to war with Paul Ryan and he represents an institution,” Rose said. “So you want to go to war, but you didn’t want to go to war against James Comey, because you thought he represented another institution, the FBI. Is there not a contradiction in that?”
Bannon replied that there wasn’t, arguing that “with McConnell and Ryan — those institutions can be changed if the leadership is changed.” Conversely, he said the institutional nature of the FBI, particularly with respect to ongoing investigations, would likely remain unchanged by dismissing its leader.
The former chief strategist added that had Comey not been fired, Mueller would not have been appointed special counsel. “We would not have the Mueller investigation in the breadth that, clearly, Mr. Mueller is going.”
When Rose asked Bannon whether he believed Mueller should be fired, Bannon said that he did not and indicated that there had not been discussions about it within the White House.
Trump has characterized Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt” on several occasions. Though it’s unclear whether Trump is seriously considering firing the special counsel, it has been reported that he is exploring his pardon power as Mueller’s investigation heats up and broadens in scope.
Watch Bannon’s interview via CBS News »
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