WASHINGTON — President Trump today unleashed on his former chief White House strategist, claiming that Steve Bannon “has nothing to do with me or my presidency” after the publication of book excerpts in which the Breitbart leader called a campaign Trump Tower meeting with Russians “treasonous.”
According to the forthcoming book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff, which was seen by the Guardian, Bannon predicted the special counsel’s probe into the Trump campaign will uncover money laundering and “they’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
Bannon called the June 2016 meeting involving Donald Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and other parties “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
“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,” Bannon said, according to Wolff. “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.”
The former campaign chief executive also roped Trump Sr. into the meeting: “The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero,” Bannon said.
Bannon said Robert Mueller’s probe would ultimately be driven by money laundering, and the “path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr. and Jared Kushner.”
“It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit. The Kushner shit is greasy. They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me,” he said, adding that the White House is “sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”
By this afternoon, the White House issued a lengthy statement from Trump stating that when Bannon “was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”
He described Bannon as “a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination,” and “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,” said Trump, who endorsed Roy Moore in the December special election after endorsing Luther Strange in the primary.
The president accused Bannon of “leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was,” as “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,” Trump said. The president appointed Bannon to the principals committee of the National Security Council; he was removed a few months later in a rearrangement under National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued her own statement targeting the entire book, saying it’s “filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House.”
“Participating in a book that can only be described as trashy tabloid fiction exposes their sad desperate attempts at relevancy,” she said.
President Trump sat down with Wolff for an in-depth interview for The Hollywood Reporter in mid-2016. The new book is reportedly based on more than 200 interviews with Trump, his inner circle and administration players.