In a new, yet-to-be-released book meant to give an inside look at the Donald Trump White House, Steve Bannon called Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer "treasonous" and "unpatriotic." That much is made clear by a new story from The Guardian, which on Wednesday, Dec. 3, reported that it had seen the book before quoting certain excerpts of it. The meeting to which Bannon refers occurred in June 2016, when Trump Jr., his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort (the Trump presidential campaign manager at the time) met with the lawyer at Trump Tower after Trump Jr. had been proposed with damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
The book, titled Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, is written by Michael Wolff, a columnist who has written for multiple high-profile publications, like The Hollywood Reporter and USA Today. Steve Bannon is currently the head of Breitbart News, but was formerly President Trump's chief strategist and served as the chairman of the presidential campaign.
On Wednesday, The Guardian reported that Bannon spoke to Wolff about Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort's decision making "mockingly," presumably to emphasize Bannon's belief that the meeting with a Russian lawyer was a bad idea.
"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," Bannon reportedly said in the book. "They didn’t have any lawyers."
Then came the part where Bannon called the meeting treasonous. "Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad sh*t, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately" Bannon reportedly said.
President Donald Trump said in a statement on Wednesday that "Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency." The president added that "when [Bannon] was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind." Here's Trump's entire statement on Bannon:
In July 2017, over a year after the meeting with a Russian lawyer took place, Donald Trump Jr. released a chain of emails that showed he was proposed with "official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russian and would be very useful to your father."
Within the emails, Trump Jr. was also told that information about Clinton was obtained as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." Trump Jr. released the emails after The New York Times reported details of the meeting and told the president's son that it had obtained the emails.
At the time that the meeting took place, Bannon was not yet a part of the Trump presidential campaign. Despite Bannon's former rank inside the White House, it has been widely reported that the Breitbart executive has long been at odds with Jared Kushner, himself a senior adviser of the president.
The reporting of Bannon's comments in Wolff's book made waves on Wednesday, becoming headline news with many reports noting the novelty of a political ally of President Trump using words like "unpatriotic" to describe actions taken by those within the first family.
In addition, Axios reported that the exact quotes reported by The Guardian's had shocked sources close to the president, even though they'd already known that Bannon would be quoted in the book.
Wolff's work now has the look of a book that promises to dish many more previously unreported details about the Trump White House, and not only because of The Guardian's reporting. On Wednesday, New York magazine released an excerpt from the book that shared even more details that the author says he learned in interviews. One of those details asserts that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were advised not to go work in Washington D.C.
The release of Fire and Fury is scheduled for January 9, according to New York magazine.