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Monday 17 December 2018

Trump no longer on speaking terms with Steve Bannon amid book spat

Donald Trump has attacked his former chief strategist Steve Bannon (Saul Loeb, Pool via AP)
Donald Trump has attacked his former chief strategist Steve Bannon (Saul Loeb, Pool via AP)

President Donald Trump has said he no longer speaks with former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who savaged his administration in a new book.

Mr Trump told reporters, "I don't talk to him", before he began a White House meeting with Republican senators on immigration reform.

Mr Bannon questioned Mr Trump's fitness for office and made scandalous allegations against the president and his family in excerpts of the book, Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House, by Michael Wolff.

White House aides were blindsided by early excerpts from the book which left Mr Trump "furious" and "disgusted", said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

She complained that the book contained "outrageous" and "completely false claims against the president, his administration and his family".

Mr Trump's lawyer Charles Harder sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wolff and Steve Rubin, president and publisher of Henry Holt. It demanded a halt to publication of the book or excerpts.

But the publisher responded by bringing forward the release date to Friday - four days earlier than planned .

Henry Holt and Co said in a statement it did so due to "unprecedented demand".

Wolff tweeted: "Here we go. You can buy it (and read it) tomorrow. Thank you, Mr. President."

When the bombshell book first surfaced on Wednesday, Mr Trump said Mr Bannon had "lost his mind".

In the book his former ally portrays the US president as an undisciplined man-child who did not actually want to win the White House and quotes his former adviser as calling his son's contact with a Russian lawyer "treasonous".

It paints Mr Trump as a leader who does not understand the weight of the presidency and spends his evenings eating cheeseburgers in bed, watching television and talking on the phone to old friends.

Mr Bannon, who was forced out of his White House job last summer, was not surprised or particularly bothered by the backlash, according to a source.

The source said Mr Bannon vowed on Wednesday to continue his war on the Republican establishment and also predicted that, after a cooling-off period, he would continue to speak with Mr Trump, who likes to maintain contact with former advisers even after he fires and sometimes disparages them.

The former-and-current Breitbart News head has told associates that he believes Mr Trump has been ill-served by some his closest allies, including eldest son Don Jr and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law.

Mr Bannon believes they have exposed Mr Trump to the Russia probe that could topple his presidency and that Mr Trump would be able to accomplish more without them.

AP

Press Association

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