Wednesday 15 August 2018

The Trumps vs Steve Bannon: family turn on former aide with insults and threats of legal action

Donald Trump talks to Steve Bannon at the White House. Picture: Reuters
Donald Trump talks to Steve Bannon at the White House. Picture: Reuters

Sean Nolan

Just six months after he left the White House, Steve Bannon, former chief strategist to President Donald Trump, has been accused of "losing his mind" by the man he helped secure the presidency.

Insults, and even threats of legal action, flew last night as the fall out from excerpts from an explosive book on the Trump White House reignited interest in Bannon, whose presence on the campaign and in the White House was controversial.

The latest flare-up in the troubled relationship between the Trump family and Bannon came after excerpts from 'Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House' by Michael Wolff were published online by New York magazine and other media outlets ahead of the January 9 publication date.

In the book, Mr Bannon is quoted as describing a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Junior, Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer as "treasonous" and "unpatriotic."

Mr Bannon also speaks critically of president Trump's daughter and White House adviser, Ivanka, calling her "dumb as a brick".

"A little marketing savvy and has a look but as far as understanding actually how the world works and what politics is and what it means - nothing," he is quoted saying.

In response Mr Trump said that Steve Bannon "has nothing to do with me or my Presidency" and added: "When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."

The book also claims Donald Trump Junior told a friend that his father looked as if he had seen a ghost when it became clear he might win the presidency. The younger Trump described Melania Trump as "in tears - and not of joy."

Mr Trump Jr. also attacked Bannon in a tweet.

"Steve had the honor of working in the White House & serving the country. Unfortunately, he squandered that privilege & turned that opportunity into a nightmare of backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying & undermining the President. Steve is not a strategist, he is an opportunist," he said.

In a further escalation of the bad blood between the Trumps and Bannon, lawyers for the president sent a cease and desist letter to Bannon on Wednesday.

They said in the letter, seen by Reuters, Bannon had breached an agreement by communicating with Wolff about Trump, his family members and the campaign and made disparaging remarks about Trump and his family.

Bannon, a founding member of ring-wing online news outlet Breitbart, became chief executive of Mr Trump's presidential campaign in August 2016 and after the election victory he became the White House chief strategist.

However, almost exactly a year after first coming on board, Bannon left the White House in August 2017.

Bannon claimed he resigned rather than being fired and it has been reported that Trump continued to speak to Bannon privately after he left an official role in the White House.

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