“Hannity: The Donald’s ‘fake news’ isn’t ‘fake,’ but it’s ‘disgusting'”
A few weeks ago, the White House was caught on tape boasting about having a secret backchannel with the Kremlin.
But now the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is facing scrutiny over a series of controversial tweets he wrote about Russia’s hacking of Democratic National Committee and John Podesta emails.
Now, former Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon, who is now a senior adviser to the president, is under scrutiny for suggesting that the Russian hacking had a “red line.”
Bannon’s tweets, published Wednesday in the conservative Breitbart News, are among the first in the Trump administration to be scrutinized over whether they were intended to damage the administration.
In an apparent effort to avoid being seen as an obstructionist, Kushner has denied any collusion.
But Bannon’s comments, and a series published by The Washington Post on Thursday, underscore the degree to which the president appears to be trying to stoke tensions with Moscow.
Trump tweeted that the Russians had “hacked” the DNC and Podesta emails and suggested that they were “very upset” about the matter.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that he has no personal knowledge of the hacking, and his son-ins-law has suggested that the Kremlin had a backchannel.
But he has repeatedly denied any coordination with Moscow and has defended his son, a prominent adviser to his campaign, by pointing to his close relationship with Bannon.
On Thursday, Bannon’s deputy, Sebastian Gorka, tweeted that he believed the “red lines” Trump had drawn were “probably more clear than the words he said.”
Gorka also suggested that he was “not a Putin critic,” but said that the president should take “more care in his rhetoric.”
“You can’t get into the real world with a president that has no sense of moral responsibility, no sense at all of who he is and what he stands for,” Gorka wrote.
Bannon has also been caught up in a series, including a tweet in which he said the U.S. should take a “very different stance” on Russia than it did with Ukraine, when he tweeted that Russia should be “loyal to its friends.”
Bannon and Gorka both defended the president in tweets Wednesday, saying that they “just want the world to understand” that Russia has “a very serious record of aggression against the West, including Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Ukraine.”
“As a son, it is very important for me to tell the truth,” Bannon tweeted.
“Russia is not our friend.
Russia is not America’s friend.
Putin is not a friend of the U (United States).
Putin is a Russian agent.”
Bannon is also accused of lying about meeting with Kislyak and the Kremlin in a Washington hotel in December, which Bannon said was to discuss a U.N. vote on a U-N.
resolution that condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
He has denied the claims, which are being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., also said in a tweet Wednesday that the meeting was a “good example of why I’m with him, the need to be tough, and the need for bipartisanship in Washington.”
Bannon has previously defended his comments, saying they were about the “real Russia problem.”
“Russia was always a bad actor, but now it’s a far more dangerous actor than ever,” Bannon said.
Bannon’s son has also previously criticized Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey over his investigation into the 2016 election, which culminated in the appointment of Mueller as special counsel.
The administration also has taken steps to pressure lawmakers on Capitol Hill to support its agenda.
On Friday, Bannon told reporters that the Trump-Russia investigation was “a witch hunt.”