US President Donald Trump's former strategist Steve Bannon has 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.
"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."
The fallout from the book's publication, brought forward to Friday after Trump threatened legal action, continued on Sunday with a senior aide hitting out on CNN.
Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller told Jake Tapper that Fire and Fury was a "grotesque work of fiction", accusing the network of "anti-Trump hysterical coverage".
"The reality is that the president is a political genius," Miller said and accused Tapper of being "condescending" and "snide."
"I have no idea why you're attacking me," Tapper responded, saying Miller was being "obsequious" and asking him to "calm down" before cutting the interview short.
"I think we have wasted enough of my viewers' time," Tapper said, ending the interview.