President Donald Trump is slamming onetime close ally Steve Bannon after an explosive new book claims the president's former chief strategist called a Trump Tower meeting between Trump associates and a Russian lawyer "treasonous"

By Sam Gillette
January 03, 2018 02:24 PM
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President Donald Trump
Credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

President Donald Trump is slamming onetime close ally Steve Bannon after an explosive new book claims the president’s former chief strategist called a Trump Tower meeting between Trump associates and a Russian lawyer “treasonous.”

According to a report in The Guardian, which received a copy of the upcoming book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff that releases on Jan. 9., Bannon called the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians during the 2016 presidential election “unpatriotic” and “treasonous.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is currently leading an investigation to determine if there was any illegal cooperation between the Trump team and Russia to disrupt the 2016 election. So far, four people tied to the Trump campaign have been charged.

Donald Trump and family
| Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

According to The Guardian, Bannon, who is the leader of the right-wing Breitbart News website, told the author that the Russia investigation will center around money laundering. Bannon also predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

President Trump swiftly responded to Bannon’s reported comments on Wednesday, stating that his former ally “has nothing to do with me or my presidency.”

“When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” Trump also said, per Politico.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders also slammed the book as “false and misleading,” while a spokesperson for First Lady Melania Trump dismissed it as “fiction.”

The book delves into the incriminating June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. Eight people have been identified as attendees, including Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. The meeting occurred after a senior Russian government official promised to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton that could “incriminate” her. According to emails that were seen by The New York Times, Trump Jr. was ecstatic about the potential dirt.

“I love it,” he replied in an email.

While Trump Jr. denies that any important information was revealed, Wolff writes that Bannon mocked the whole situation: “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 s–t, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon
| Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

Wolff adds that Bannon thinks the meeting (if it had to take place) should have occurred “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people.”

Credit: Amazon

Bannon, meanwhile, reportedly said the Trump administration is fooling itself if they think the investigation will go away quickly, according to the book.

“You realize where this is going,” the book quotes Bannon as saying. “This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann 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.”

Trump’s former chief strategist isn’t the only one who reportedly made antagonistic comments about the Trump circle. The book also quotes Thomas Barrack Jr., a billionaire and longtime associate of Trump’s, as allegedly telling an acquaintance that the president is “not only crazy, he’s stupid.”

Barrack denied the comment in a statement to PEOPLE.

“The quote attributed to me by Michael Wolff is completely and utterly false. I have never been interviewed by Michael Wolff, nor did I give him any quotes, nor did he attempt to verify this totally false comment with me. It is clear to anyone who knows me those are not my words, and they are wholly inconsistent with how I talk and feel about the President who is my longtime friend and for whom I have inordinate respect.”

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The book also references Ivanka Trump’s apparent interest in becoming the “first woman president.”

“Jared & Ivanka had made an earnest deal between themselves: if sometime in the future the time came, she’d be the one to run for president (or the first one of them to take the shot) … The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton, it would be Ivanka Trump,” NBC News National correspondent Peter Alexander tweeted Wednesday, explaining that reported information came from page 69 of the yet-to-be-released book.

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff releases on Jan. 9.