President Donald Trump has fired back at former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who claims in an upcoming book that a June 2016 meeting with a group of Russians that was attended by Donald Trump Jr. was “treasonous.”
Trump on Wednesday released a statement and said that when Bannon was fired from the White House, seven months after being named chief strategist, “he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”
In the book, which has yet to be released to the public but which has been seen by some at the White House, as well as by The Guardian, Bannon says that the meeting at Trump Tower in 2016 was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
The book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” was written by Michael Wolff and compiles more than 200 interviews with the President and others, including Bannon, whom The Guardian reports is “quoted extensively” in the book.
The Guardian first reported:
He [Bannon] is particularly scathing about a June 2016 meeting involving Trump’s son Donald Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York. A trusted intermediary had promised documents that would “incriminate” rival Hillary Clinton but instead of alerting the FBI to a potential assault on American democracy by a foreign power, Trump Jr. replied in an email: “I love it.”
The meeting was revealed by The New York Times in July last year, prompting Trump Jr to say no consequential material was produced. Soon after, Wolff writes, Bannon remarked mockingly: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.”
“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
Bannon went on, Wolff writes, to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people.” Any information, he said, could then be “dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication.”
Bannon added: “You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.”
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said many of the things in the book are “surprising” and “completely untrue.”
Bannon, who is chairman of the far-right-leaning Breitbart News, tweeted on Wednesday: “This is total Fake News and taken out of context, don’t believe the liberal propaganda Machine!”
This is President Trump’s full statement on Bannon:
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.
Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.
Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.
We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.”