In an interview that aired on the Sept. 10 edition of CBS' "60 Minutes Overtime," former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon referred to President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey as the biggest mistake in "modern political history."
"I don't believe that the institutional logic of the FBI, and particularly in regards to an investigation, could possibly be changed by changing the head of it," Bannon said, reports the Daily Mail.
If Comey hadn't been fired, he added, we "would not have the Mueller investigation," referring to former FBI director Robert S. Mueller, who was appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel to oversee the investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.
The chain of events leading to the Mueller investigation began when Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, on Feb. 13, as summarized by The New York Times.
Flynn was ousted after it was learned that he misled the public and top White House officials about about his communications with a Russian ambassador during the campaign.
On May 9, Trump fired Comey, who was leading a criminal investigation into whether Trump's advisers colluded with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
On May 16, a memo surfaced which revealed that Trump pressured Comey to stop investigating Flynn. "I hope you can let this go," wrote Trump to Comey in the memo, the exposure of which prompted the Mueller investigation.
In the "60 Minutes" interview, which was conducted by Charlie Rose, Bannon also blasted current and former Republican leaders for not supporting Trump, and for allegedly attempting to undermine his agenda, reports CBS News.
He referred to officials of the George W. Bush administration as "idiots," specifically naming former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
When questioned about Trump's promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C., Bannon admitted that a conscious decision was made to not do that.
"In the 48 hours after we won, there's a fundamental decision that was made," said Bannon. "You might call it the original sin of the administration. We embraced the establishment. I mean, we totally embraced the establishment."
As Bannon admitted, Trump quickly realized that in order for the executive branch to function, they would have to rely on people with experience.
"You know, I'm a former investment banker who's a media guy, running a little website," Bannon explained. "Our whole campaign was a little bit the island of misfit toys. So he looks around and I'm wearing my combat jacket, I haven't shaved ... my hair's down to here, and he says he's thinking. 'Hey, I've gotta put together a government. I've gotta really staff up something. I need to embrace the establishment.'"