President Trump’s reactive attack on Steve Bannon following the release of excerpts from an upcoming tell-all book pre-empted a statement planned by the former White House chief strategist to dismiss the “lefty hatchet job.”
Bannon was debating the release of a statement attacking “Fire and Fury” and its author Michael Wolff when Trump fired off his own scathing rebuke of his former aide, saying Bannon had “lost his mind,” according to CNN.
Excerpts from Wolff’s exposé on the Trump administration quoted Bannon calling a 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” Bannon planned to praise Trump Jr., however, as a “great American and a patriot” in a statement he drafted Wednesday.
“As I said during my interview with ’60 Minutes’ and many times since, there is no basis to the Russian investigation. It’s a political witch hunt orchestrated by the left,” Bannon’s draft read, a source told CNN. “Don Jr., like his father, is a great American and a patriot. And we all know Don Jr. did not knowingly meet with Russian agents.”
But while the Breitbart CEO debated releasing his statement, Trump fired off his own.
“Michael Wolff took my remarks about Don Jr. out of context to sell his book. Sadly, this is yet another lefty hatchet job intended to disrespect our President and his supporters,” Bannon reportedly meant to say.
According to The Hill:
Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation say that Bannon’s aides sought to impress upon him the need to put out a statement quickly. The aides had crafted a statement, which was pending Bannon’s approval, when the White House beat him to the punch.
… Bannon and his allies did not see a need to release the statement once Trump accused his former top campaign aide of having “lost his mind.” They believe the president’s statement effectively ended the relationship between the two men.
“He was literally just about to respond but backed off when the White House issued the statement,” a source said.
Trump’s statement was not immediate and Bannon surely had enough time to issue a response that may have saved his relationship with the president. He later praised Trump as “a great man” during a radio interview and said he still supported the president.
“You know I support him day in and day out,” Bannon said.
Trump continued to blast the book’s author and Bannon, on whom he bestowed a new nickname which Trump Jr. called “branding gold.”
I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2018
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 5, 2018
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