President Donald Trump blasted former campaign strategist and White House adviser Steve Bannon Wednesday, saying he “lost his mind” and dismissing his role in helping win the 2016 election.
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency,” Trump said in scathing words unusual for an official White House statement. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.”
The statement came after excerpts from an upcoming book in The Guardian and New York magazine noted that Bannon made snarky remarks about Trump’s ability to follow complex topics, criticized an infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian attorney as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” and speculated that Donald Trump Jr. had set up the meeting.
The excerpts are from Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” slated to be released later this month.
Over the years, Trump has repeatedly said nice things about Bannon, calling him a friend, defending him against accusations of racism and saying he would be “tough and smart” at Breitbart. But he’s also repeatedly downplayed his role in the campaign — saying “you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late” — and in the White House — saying “I am my own strategist” and calling him just “a guy who works for me.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders also criticized the book in a statement.
“This book is filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House,” she said.
Trump has had a relationship with Bannon since 2015, when he was interviewed for a Breitbart radio show. The New York magazine excerpt claims that the relationship first started to sour after Bannon was featured on the cover of TIME magazine in February of 2017. Bannon left the White House in August to return to Breitbart.
Since then, Bannon has attempted to recruit insurgent candidates to run for Senate this year and campaigned for failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, something Trump needled him on in the formal statement despite supporting Moore in the general election as well.
“Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country,” he said. “Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans.”
Trump’s statement was incorrect. The last time a Democrat held an Alabama Senate seat was 21 years ago, when Sen. Howell Heflin chose not to run for re-election.
Here is the full text of the statement:
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. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen 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. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.
Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.
We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down