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President Donald Trump is blasting his former chief strategist ahead of the release of a new, unflattering book.
Trump said in a statement on Wednesday that when Steve Bannon was fired, “he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” The criticism was spurred by an unflattering book by Michael Wolff that paints Trump as a leader who doesn’t understand the weight of the presidency.
A new book by writer Wolff offers a series of explosive revelations, including that Trump never expected to win the 2016 presidential race. An adaptation of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House published Wednesday in New York magazine says Trump believed his nomination would boost his brand and deliver “untold opportunities.” An excerpt published by The Guardian says Bannon described a Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” (Read more from Wolff on his year inside Trump’s White House, posted to THR on Thursday, here.)
The book dominated Wednesday’s White House presser, led by press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The White House says Trump was left feeling “furious” and “disgusted” over the claims made by Bannon. Sanders complained the book contained “outrageous” and “completely false claims against the president, his administration and his family.”
When continually pressed, Sanders said, “I think the press statement is extremely clear what his position on Mr. Bannon is.”
When speaking on his SiriusXM radio show Breitbart News Tonight later on Wednesday, Bannon did not deny the quotes attributed to him in the book excerpts. He called Trump a “a great man,” and told a caller, “I support him day in and day out.” On Breitbart radio Thursday morning, Bannon told a caller, “nothing will ever come between us and President Trump and his agenda.”
Later on Thursday, Trump briefly commented when fielding questions from reporters. “He called me a great man last night so he obviously changed his tune pretty quick,” Trump said of Bannon‘s radio response. Adding, “I don’t talk to him.”
Trump’s full statement on Bannon, released by Sanders early Wednesday, is below:
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. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen 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 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 thirty years by Republicans.
Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.
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.
Michael Wolff is a contributing editor at The Hollywood Reporter.
Jan. 4, 7 a.m. Updated with Sanders, Bannon comments
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