Steve Bannon suggested President Donald Trump was aware of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian operatives at Trump Tower in June 2016 ― because he met with them that day, too, according to an explosive new book by acclaimed journalist Michael Wolff.
The former White House strategist was quoted by Wolff as saying there was “zero” chance Trump Jr. didn’t walk the Russian meeting attendees “up to his father’s office on the 26th floor.”
Wolff met with Bannon during the nine months he was granted far-reaching access to the West Wing and senior administration officials to write a tell-all book about the White House, Fire and Fury, set for release on Jan. 9.
The revelations appeared to contradict Trump’s repeated claims that he was unaware his eldest son, as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner, had met with the Russians.
Bannon also dubbed the infamous Trump Tower meeting as “treasonous” and “bad shit,” according to Wolff. The far-right icon mocked Trump Jr. and Kushner for taking the meeting in hopes of acquiring dirt on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s political opponent in the 2016 presidential race, as first revealed by The New York Times in July.
“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 told Wolff, according to The Guardian, which obtained a copy of the book.
“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” he added.
Bannon predicted special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government will focus on money laundering.
“This is all about money laundering,” Bannon told Wolff. “Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”
Bannon suggested Kushner’s business dealings with German financial juggernaut Deutsche Bank, which has loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kushner family real estate business, would be problematic for the administration.
“The Kushner shit is greasy,” Bannon said. “They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me.”
Four Trump associates have been indicted in connection to the probe, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who also attended the Trump Tower meeting. Manafort was indicted by a grand jury in October on charges of conspiracy and money laundering.
“They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,” Bannon said, adding that the White House should reconsider its apparent lack of concern over the Mueller investigation. “They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”
Trump responded to Bannon’s accusations by claiming his former staffer had “lost his mind.”
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency,” Trump said in a statement. “Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look.”
This article has been updated with Trump’s response to Bannon.