A gossipy forthcoming book on the Trump White House has caused the long-simmering tensions between President Trump and his former chief strategist Steve Bannon to erupt into all-out warfare.
On Wednesday, the Guardian posted excerpts of the book — Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff — in which Bannon is quoted saying some remarkable things about the Trump family and the Russia investigation.
In the excerpts, Bannon says he thinks Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in search of dirt on Hillary Clinton was “treasonous,” speculates that the elder Trump may have been involved in the meeting too, and asserts that Jared Kushner is involved in some “greasy” business that could expose him to money laundering charges.
Not only did all this cut against Trump’s denials of wrongdoing in the Russia scandal but it openly insulted Trump’s family members as well. “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,” Bannon is quoted saying. (Bannon’s website Breitbart reproduced some of the quotes today without disputing them, in a seeming sign that they’re accurate.)
So this afternoon, President Trump released a furious statement in response. “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” the statement reads in part. “Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.”
The statement goes on to minimize Bannon’s role in Trump’s 2016 victory, to gripe that he helped cost Republicans a Senate seat in Alabama (by endorsing Roy Moore), and to accuse Bannon of constantly “leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was.” That last thing, Trump’s statement says, “is the only thing he does well.”
Here are the key quotes attributed to Bannon in Wolff’s book, per the Guardian:
- “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 shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
- “The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.” (Note: It’s unclear what a “jumo” is.)
- “You realize where this is going. “This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner. … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”
- “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.”
- “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
And here is Trump’s full statement in response:
Wolff’s book will be released on Tuesday.