Former Trump ally Bannon facing political payback after blasting Trump’s inner circle
Developments on Day 350 of the Trump Administration:
Trump Effort to Halt Book Backfires
Donald Trump has railed at his former ally Steve Bannon, but failed to stop a book with damaging revelations about his character, his ability to hold the office of President, and the involvement of his inner circle with Russian officials.
The storm fed by Bannon’s statements, among headline-grabbing revelations in a new book by Michael Wolff, was only whipped up on Thursday when Trump’s lawyers — having already issued a cease-and-desist demand to the former White House chief strategist — tried to block the publication of Wolff’s books. The publishers, Henry Holt, responded by bringing forward the date of publication from next Tuesday to today.
Trump then fumed on Twitter, in a tweet which tried to evade Wolff’s interviews — some of which are on audio, according to the author — with hundreds of sources, including many within the Administration and Trump’s social circle:
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
Trump did not address any of the specific remarks, including Bannon’s declaration of a “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” meeting convened by Donald Trump Jr. with three Kremlin-linked envoys in June 2016 to discuss a Russian offer of material damaging to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Bannon’s description of the meeting in Trump Tower, which included Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign manager Paul Manafort, complemented the revelations suggesting that the Trump-Russia investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller may soon reach the President.
Bannon, who returned to head the hard-right attack site Breitbart after he was dismissed in August from the White House, said chances were “almost zero” that Trump Sr. did not meet the Russians. Elsewhere in the book, Bannon bitterly denounced “Javanka” — Kushner and Trump’s daughter Ivanka — and suggest Trump Sr. was not up to the job of President.
Even before his father’s response, Donald Trump Jr. has waged a Twitter campaign against Bannon and Wolff, tweeting or retweeting dozens of messages. He immediately followed up Trump Sr.’s blast:
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 5, 2018
While Wolff’s book could not be halted and the cease-and-desire letter from Trump’s lawyers rebuffed, Bannon is under pressure from other quarters to row back his criticism, which was foreshadowed last month in an article in Vanity Fair with biting comments and Bannon’s suggestion that he could run for President in 2020.
The longtime backers of Bannon and Breitbart, the family of the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, supported Trump while walking away from Bannon if not the site. Rebekah Mercer said:
My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements. I have a minority interest in Breitbart News and I remain committed in my support for them.
Republican legislators were muted yesterday. However, with Bannon declaring “#WAR” against the GOP “establishment” in August and promoting candidate to challenge Republican incumbents in 2018 Congressional elections, the GOP leadership was said to have been pleased with developments which could damage their assailant.
On Wednesday night, Bannon appeared to take a step back on his Breitbart radio show. Supported by a caller that Trump had “made a huge mistake, Steve, bashing you like he did”, Bannon set aside criticism:
The President of the United States is a great man. You know I support him day in and day out, whether going through the country giving the ‘Trump Miracle’ speech or on the show or on the website.
Trump used those remarks on Thursday morning when asked by reporters if Bannon had betrayed him: “I don’t know. He called me a great man last night so, you know, he obviously changed his tune pretty quick.”