President Donald Trump issued an extraordinary statement bashing former top advisor Steve Bannon after the president’s longtime consigliere was quoted trashing Donald Trump Jr. and claiming his father would have immediately been made aware of an infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians.
Bannon claimed a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, supposedly to obtain unflattering information about Hillary Clinton, was ‘treasonous’ and ‘unpatriotic,’ prompting an unprecedented brushback of the former White House aide from the president.
‘Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,’ Trump said in a statement provided by the White House that torches his former chief strategist. ‘When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.’
Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, then told reporters that the president was ‘furious’ and ‘disgusted’ by Bannon’s assault on the president’s son and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who also attended the Trump Tower meeting.
Former White House strategist Stephen Bannon has termed a June 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians ‘treasonous’ in a forthcoming book about the Trump White House
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The White House’s full-scale attack on Bannon, who was once one of Trump’s top advisers, was ripe with personal slights, exposing a dramatic rift between the president and the conservative provocateur who is also the Breitbart News executive chairman.
It followed Bannon’s comments undercutting the president’s eldest son and a suggestion that Donald Trump was involved in the 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer that Bannon is now quoted as saying should have been reported to the FBI.
‘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,’ Trump said. ‘Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look.’
Trump said Bannon ‘doesn’t represent my base, he’s only in it for himself’ and ‘had very little to do’ with his victory, but ‘everything to do’ with the loss of the Alabama Senate seat.
The cutting statement went on to say, ‘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.’
Bannon backed losing candidate Roy Moore, who Trump ultimately campaigned for in the special election after claiming the Republican would have a tough time winning the general election and endorsing his primary opponent.
Sanders said Wednesday that the loss contributed to the falling out between the president, who last spoke to Bannon sometime in early December.
Accusing the president’s son of treason is also not a way to ‘curry favor’ with Trump, she stated, calling the allegation ‘ridiculous.’
‘I think there are a number of factors that played in,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘I would certainly think that going after the president’s son and an absolutely outrageous and unprecedented way, is probably not the best way to curry favor with anybody.’
Steve Bannon, chairman of Breitbart News Network LLC, speaks during a campaign rally for Roy Moore, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Alabama
After the press briefing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose wife Callista is U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, walked through a press work space on his way to a Fox News interview.
‘Bannon has no contingent,’ he told DailyMail.com and another reporter ripping into the former White House aide. ‘There’s a Trump wing of the Republican Party. There’s not a Bannon wing.’
The White House had also rejected the notion that feud would weaken Trump’s base.
‘The base and the people that supported this president supported the president and supported his agenda, those things haven’t changed,’ Sanders said at her briefing. ‘The president still exactly who he was yesterday as he was two years ago when he started out on the campaign trail.’
Trump’s spokeswoman said, ‘Look at all he’s accomplished, I think they’re pretty happy with where he is.’
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President Trump had also sought to discredit Bannon, considered to have a played a key role in shaping his own victory.
‘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,’ the president said.
The blast came just hours after Bannon was revealed to have called the infamous June 2016 meeting between top Trump campaign officials and Russians ‘treasonous.’
Further, Bannon expressed certainty that then-candidate Donald Trump would have been made aware of the meeting at the time – a claim that, if verified, could play into a collusion narrative being explored by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump said Bannon ‘spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was’
Bannon, who held a top role in the campaign, shares his disdain in Michael Wolff’s forthcoming book, excerpts of which were published Wednesday, that other top officials went into the Trump Tower meeting blind instead of dispatching a legal team to vet information in a hand-off way and failing to alert authorities of a possible crime.
‘Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,’ Bannon mused.
He went after Donald Trump Jr. explicitly for participating, then expressed certainty about what happened next.
‘The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these Jumos up to his father’s office of the 26th floor is zero,’ Bannon said, in an excerpt from ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.’
SEAT OF POWER: ‘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,’ said Trump
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks (L) and former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon (R) walk to board Marine One as US President Donald Trump departs the White House for Harrisburg, Pensylvannia
The White House issued a separate statement from Sanders before her daily news conference trashing the expose.
‘This book is filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House,’ Sanders said.
‘Participating in a book that can only be described as trashy tabloid fiction exposes their sad desperate attempts at relevancy,’ she added.
Stephanie Grisham, communications director for Melania Trump, responded to claims in the book that the first lady cried when Trump the election because she never expected him to win.
‘The book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section. Mrs. Trump supported her husband’s decision to run for President and in fact, encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did,’ Grisham said.
The book also claims the Trump have separate bedrooms in the White House.
NBC News reported Bannon’s comment about the chance Donald Trump also met the Russians.
Sanders pointed to Trump’s previous denials of collusion when it came up at her news conference.
Trump Jr. told the House Intelligence Committee during testimony that he did not tell his father about the meeting at the time it took place, the Washington Post reported in December.
He told Fox News host Sean Hannity after word of the meeting broke: ‘In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently.’
He said he did not tell his father about the meeting because nothing came of it.
‘It was just a nothing,’ the president’s son said. ‘There was nothing to tell.’
Attending the meeting were Donald Trump Jr., Trump son in law and Bannon’s White House rival Jared Kushner, and former campaign chair Paul Manafort, who has since been indicted on money laundering and conspiracy charges.
They met with Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after an offer of potential dirt on Hillary Clinton got dangled to Trump Jr. via an email approach.
‘They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,’ Bannon, a former Naval officer and Goldman Sachs employee who runs Breitbart News, said of the president’s eldest son.
They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV
He laid out how the campaign should have handled such an approach. If any meeting happened, it should have been done ‘in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people’. That would allow information to get ‘dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication,’ he said, referencing the Breitbart News site he runs.
‘They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,’ Bannon said of the president’s eldest son, who attended the Trump Tower meeting
A picture taken on November 8, 2016 shows Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaking during an interview in Moscow
Bannon took new shots at his rival Trump son in law Jared Kushner. He predicts special counsel Mueller will go after top officials on money laundering to get to President Trump
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon (R) listens to U.S. President Donald Trump at the beginning of a meeting with government cyber security experts in the Roosevelt Room at the White House January 31, 2017 in Washington
Former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon speaks during the Asahi Shimbun interview on November 16, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan
‘You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had,’ he said dismissively.
Trump named Bannon as chief executive of his campaign in August 2016, two months after the Trump Tower meeting with Russians occurred.
Bannon, who says he continues to advise President Trump, also issued predictions about the Mueller probe.
‘You realize where this is going,’ he said. ‘This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Wessman first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to f***ing Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr. and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face,’ he said.
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According to the Guardian, Bannon insisted that he doesn’t know Russians, won’t be a witness in the related probes, won’t hire a lawyer and won’t end up on TV answering questions.
Trump Jr. has denied doing anything improper and says he got nothing of value out of the meeting. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges. Kushner’s lawyers say he is cooperating with investigators.
The book also quotes a friend of President Trump confidant Tom Barrack as having told a friend: ”He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid.’