Bannon says Trump Tower meeting was ‘treasonous’, ‘unpatriotic’
Wednesday - 03/01/2018 17:50
MELANIA Trump did not want her husband to be president and wept the night he won the election, an explosive book has claimed.
FORMER White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has unleashed on Donald Trump Jr in a new book, calling his 2016 meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”.
The US President fired back in spectacular fashion this morning, saying his former top political adviser had “lost his mind” and was “only in it for himself”.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders added in a press conference Thursday that Mr Trump was “furious” and “disgusted” by Mr Bannon’s “outrageous claims”.
Mr Bannon’s comments will be published next week in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff, which promises to blow the lid on the chaos inside the administration.
The explosive book also details how First Lady Melania Trump cried when Mr Trump won the election.
Snippets have been published in The Guardian which include incendiary criticism from Mr Bannon about a meeting between the President’s son, son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York during the election campaign. The encounter was set up after an intermediary promised to share dirt on Mr Trump’s presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.
“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,” Mr Bannon said after the meeting was exposed in The New York Times, according to the book.
“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.”
Mr Bannon suggested it would have been smarter for Donald Jr to hold the meeting in New Hampshire, away from prying eyes, and with lawyers in attendance. The incriminating information could then have been leaked to the press. “Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication,” Mr Bannon said.
Ultimately, Mr Bannon suggests the team lacked the necessary smarts to handle the situation.
“But that’s the brain trust that they had,” he said.
While Mr Trump has continued to play down the significance of the investigations into whether his campaign colluded with the Russian government to sway the election in his favour, Mr Bannon expressed shock at the White House’s lack of concern.
“They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five,” he said.
Mr Bannon predicted that the Robert Mueller’s probe would focus on money laundering as a way to get to the President.
“You realise where this is going,” Mr Bannon said, according to the book. “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.
“They’re going to crack Don Jr like an egg on national TV.”
“It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner s**t. The Kushner s**t 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’.”
Mr Trump’s response to Mr Bannon’s comments suggest a deep rift has formed between the two.
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Mr Trump said in a statement Thursday morning.
“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 17 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 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”
Ms Huckabee Sanders added in a press conference on Thursday: “Going after the President’s son and in an absolutely outrageous and unprecedented way is probably not the best way to curry favour with anybody.”
MELANIA WASN’T HAPPY ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL WIN
The damning details in the book don’t stop with Mr Bannon’s bomb-throwing.
“Shortly after 8pm on election night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy,” Wolff writes.
The First Lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, rejected this account.
“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,” she said in a statement.
The book also says that Ivanka Trump and Mr Kushner took on roles at the White House against the advice of “almost everyone they knew” because she had ambitions to become president.
“Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump,” the book says.
Wolff also paints Mr Trump as a child who is incapable of paying attention in briefings and who refuses to read memos.
“He could not really converse, not in the sense of sharing information, or of a balanced back-and-forth conversation. He neither particularly listened to what was said to him nor particularly considered what he said in response. He demanded you pay him attention, then decided you were weak for grovelling. In a sense, he was like an instinctive, pampered, and hugely successful actor. Everybody was either a lackey who did his bidding or a high-ranking film functionary trying to coax out his performance — without making him angry or petulant,” Wolff writes.
Ms Huckabee Sanders said the book was inaccurate.
“This book is filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House,” she said in a statement.
“Participating in a book that can only be described as trashy tabloid fiction exposes their sad desperate attempts at relevancy.”
Mr Bannon has returned to his role as executive chairman of right-wing news website Breitbart after he was booted from the White House.
However, he had remained in regular contact with the President up until the Alabama senate election. He is now trying to lead an anti-establishment insurgency within the Republican Party.
Mr Bannon had a famous rivalry with Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, who are both more moderate politically. Wolff’s book backs this up, saying that there was a “daily war” between Mr Bannon, Mr Kushner and former chief of state Reince Priebus.
Mr Bannon strenuously backed accused child molester Roy Moore in his race for a Senate seat in Alabama last month, which brought him into conflict with Ivanka, who said there was a “special place in hell for people who prey on children”.
Mr Bannon used that phrase against her during an Alabama rally, saying there was a “special place in hell” for Republicans who failed to back Mr Moore.
The conservative judge was narrowly defeated in the final vote, with Democrat Doug Jones picking up the seat in what is a staunchly Republican state.
Mr Trump rubbed the defeat in Mr Bannon’s face in his statement this morning, seeking to minimise the role he played him winning the presidency.
“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 30 years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself,” the President said.
In June of 2016, music promoter Rob Goldston emailed Donald Jr to say that “the crown prosecutor of Russia” could provide to the Trump campaign “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father”.
Donald Jr replied: “If it’s what you say, I love it.”
After the Times broke the story, the President’s son said the eventual meeting in Trump Tower with Ms Veselnitskaya amounted to nothing.
Wolff’s book is based on more that 200 interviews with the President and his inner circle and promises to tell “the inside story of the most controversial presidency of our time”. The book will be released on Tuesday.