President Trump said he felt “very badly” that his former campaign manager and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was arrested and indicted Thursday.
“Well I feel very badly. I haven’t been dealing with him for a long period of time,” Trump said, noting that he was “involved in our campaign” and “for a small part of the administration very early on.” Bannon served in the Trump administration from the inauguration through August 2017.
As for the border wall fundraising project at the center of the indictment, Trump claimed he knew “nothing” about it and did not know the people involved with it, even though other key allies are on its board.
“I know nothing about the project other than I didn’t like when I read about it, I didn’t like it. I said this is for government, this isn’t for private people, and it sounded to me like showboating and I think I let my opinion be very strongly stated at the time: I didn’t like it, it was showboating and maybe looking for funds, but you’ll have to see what happens. I think it’s a very sad thing for Mr. Bannon,” he said.
“I didn’t know any of the other people, either,” he added, reiterating that, “It’s sad.”
A reporter pressed Trump on the many allies who have been in legal trouble – Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, and now, Bannon, and what that says about his judgement. He declined to answer that question, instead repeating misinformation that there was “great lawlessness in the Obama administration, they spied on our campaign illegally.”
He later added that there should not be a privately-financed border wall, and he read about its construction problems, “where it was toppling.”
“I didn’t want to be associated with that, we built a very powerful wall,” he said, calling Bannon’s group’s wall “inferior” and “inappropriate.”