President Trump on Wednesday hammered Steve Bannon after his former White House chief of staff fiercely criticized him in excerpts from an upcoming book.
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency,” he said in a statement issued by the White House. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”
“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,” Trump continued. “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 was responding to portions of author Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and the Fury: Inside The Trump White House,” that publicly emerged earlier Wednesday.
The Guardian obtained parts of the book which quoted Bannon as fiercely critical of President Trump’s eldest son.
Bannon derided Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial meeting with a group of Russians during the 2016 presidential race in advance sections from the book.
Donald Trump Jr.’s encounter with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has since attracted scrutiny as he was promised damaging information about his father’s White House rival.
“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,” Bannon said, referencing Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, who was then the future president’s campaign manager.
“They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought this was treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad sh-t, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
Reports emerged last year that an intermediary offered Donald Trump Jr. damaging information about 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump Jr. replied “I love it” in an email responding to the intermediary, but he has since vowed that the meeting resulted in nothing consequential.
Bannon was once among President Trump’s top aides before he was ousted from the White House last August.
The former Trump administration official has since returned to his previous role as chairman of the far-right Breitbart News.
Special Counsel Robert Muller is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential race, including potential collusion between Russia and President Trump’s campaign.
President Trump has repeatedly dismissed the probe as a “witch hunt,” and he has steadfastly denied any collusion occurred.