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Furious Trump shuns his former chief strategist Bannon

By Sheetal Sukhija, Kuala Lumpur News
04 Jan 2018, 08:25 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - After U.S. President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, made caustic comments about the president and his family to the author of a new book - Trump has now fired back.

On Wednesday, Trump essentially excommunicated Bannon from his political circle, excoriating him as a self-promoting exaggerator.

Trump said that Bannon had “very little to do with our historic victory” and has now “lost his mind.”

Expressing his anger and resentment, Trump released a written statement, firing back at Bannon after he made comments in a new book by Michael Wolff.

The forthcoming book called ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’ was obtained by The Guardian, which reported on the jolting remarks attributed to Bannon in the book.

Bannon reportedly made the caustic comments about the Trump White House and the President’s family to Wolff. 

After being pushed out of the White House last summer, Bannon has reportedly remained in touch with Trump - however, following Bannon’s comments, the two now appear to have reached a breaking point.

Trump said in the statement, “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.”

Berating Bannon for the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama, Trump said the former adviser did not represent his base but was “only in it for himself.” 

Trump said that rather than supporting his agenda to “make America great again,” Bannon was “simply seeking to burn it all down.”

He added, “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.”

Bannon was quoted in the book as suggesting that Donald Trump Jr., the future president’s son; Jared Kushner, his son-in-law; and Paul J. Manafort, then the campaign chairman, had been “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” for meeting with Russians offering incriminating information on Hillary Clinton during a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower.

According to Wolff’s book, after The New York Times revealed the meeting in July 2017, Bannon said, “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.”

Bannon added, according to the book, “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 F.B.I. immediately.”

Wolff said in the book that Bannon also predicted that a special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and any coordination with Trump aides would ultimately center on money laundering, an assessment that could lend credibility to an investigation the president has repeatedly called a witch hunt. 

Bannon was further quoted as saying, “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

While Donald Trump Jr. did not make any official statement like his father, following the release of the comments made by Bannon, Trump Jr. jabbed at Bannon on Twitter.

Trump Jr. reposted a message noting that Alabama now had a Democratic senator. 

The younger Trump wrote, “Thanks Steve. Keep up the great work.”

Bannon helped propel Moore to the Republican nomination in Alabama and even stuck by him after the candidate was accused of sexual misconduct with several young women as young as age 14. 

Trump reportedly endorsed Moore at Bannon’s urging despite the allegations surfacing.

But, he was embarrassed when the Democrat, Doug Jones, won the election last year in a heavily Republican state.

Alabama had not sent a Democrat to the Senate in a quarter-century.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, New York magazine published an excerpt from Wolff’s book, which cited derogatory comments about Trump from some of the president’s closest allies.

Thomas J. Barrack, who is a friend and adviser to Trump, was named in the book but pushed back against the comments made in his name on Wednesday.

Barrack was reportedly quoted as telling a friend that the president is “not only crazy, he’s stupid.”

However, Barrack said this account was “totally false,” and added, “It’s clear to anyone who knows me that those aren’t my words and inconsistent with anything I’ve ever said.” 

He said that Wolff never ran that quotation by him to ask if it was accurate.

On Wednesday meanwhile, the White House attacked not just Bannon but the book as a whole, in a bid to diminish its reporting. 

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary said in a statement, “This book is filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House. Participating in a book that can only be described as trashy tabloid fiction exposes their sad desperate attempts at relevancy.”

Further, the book is said to have stated that neither Trump nor his wife, Melania Trump, nor many of his aides actually expected to win the election in November 2016.

It said that indeed neither of them really wanted to win. 

The book said that Melania Trump was distraught and was in tears on election night, not out of joy.

Further, it pointed out that the new president and first lady were fighting on Inauguration Day.

On Wednesday, Melania authorized her office to rebut the book and the first lady’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, “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.”

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