The new year has rang in new troubles for President Donald Trump as his former chief strategist Steve Bannon has slammed the president and his family, calling out a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer.
Bannon insinuated, among other things, that Trump might be guilty of money laundering while his son, Donald Trump Jr., and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may have committed treason.
The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting was held because a Russian operative had offered damaging information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to Bannon, who labeled the meeting, “treasonous.”
Bannon, the Breitbart founder who left the White House as Trump’s chief strategist early last year, disclosed the meeting to Michael Wolff, an author and journalist who detailed it in his new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
The book is scheduled for release this week.
“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 says in the book.
“They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad [stuff], and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” he reportedly said.
Bannon also reportedly told Wolff: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
Bannon also told Wolff that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia is centered on money laundering, saying that the White House is “sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five” hurricane, according to CNN.
“You realize where this is going … This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy,” Bannon reportedly said.
“Their path to [screwing] Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face,” he said.
Bannon said he believes Kushner, the White House senior adviser and the President’s son-in-law, could be convinced to cooperate if Mueller probes his financial records.
“They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me,” Bannon said, which CNN noted as an apparent reference to Trump Jr. and Kushner.
The Trump Tower meeting has been of intense interest to the congressional Russia investigators as well as Mueller.
Trump Jr. testified before House investigators last month but would not say what he and his father discussed after reports surfaced about the meeting, citing attorney-client privilege, CNN said.
Trump responded to Bannon with predictable fury of his own on Wednesday, saying Bannon had “lost his mind.”
“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,” Trump said in a statement. “Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating 17 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,” Trump said. “Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country.”