Steve Bannon calls Donald Trump Jr.′s Russia meeting ′treasonous′ | News | DW | 03.01.2018
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Steve Bannon calls Donald Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting 'treasonous'

Steve Bannon, a former top advisor to US President Donald Trump, accused Trump's son of holding a "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" meeting with Kremlin-linked figures in 2016, according to excerpts from a new book.

Former White House chief strategist and current head of the alt-right news website Breitbart Steve Bannon was highly critical of a June 2016 meeting between US President Donald Trump's campaign officials and a group of people with ties to the Kremlin, according to excerpts from an upcoming book.

Excerpts from Michael Wolff's book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" were shown to the newspaper the Guardian, which first reported on the quotes, as well as Reuters news agency.

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Bannon: Mainstream media 'part of the opposition party'

In the book, Bannon expressed astonishment about the meeting which was arranged by Trump Jr. and also included Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner as well as then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

"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. They didn't have any lawyers," Bannon reportedly said.

"Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately," he is quoted as saying.

Read moreWhy the Russia probes don't cripple Trump's foreign policy

Trump: Bannon has 'lost his mind'

Shortly after the initial reports on Bannon's quotes surfaced, the president sent out a statement decrying his former adviser's take on the Russia meeting.

"When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," Trump said in the statement. Bannon left his post at the White House in August, returning to Breitbart and taking on several positions at odds with the Trump administration. "Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn't as easy as I make it look."

Read more: Stephen Bannon: Four facts about the former 'Darth Vader' of the White House

"Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me," Trump also said in the statement, saying that Bannon "doesn't represent my base."

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Kushner: 'I did not collude with Russia'

'They're going to crack Don Junior like an egg'

The meeting is already part of a federal investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 US presidential election. Trump has denied any collusion took place.

The June 2016 meeting was proposed by an intermediary, who said that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was offering damaging information about Trump's rival, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Read moreWhat Robert Mueller's indictments of former Trump campaign officials mean for the president

Trump Jr. responded "I love it" in an email which he released himself on Twitter (albeit after being notified that a major US news organization was about to publish the information).

"They're going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV," Bannon reportedly said.

In Wolff's book, Bannon also said that the Russia probe by special counsel Robert Mueller will focus on money laundering.

He pointed to Kushner's financial dealings in particular as points of concern, calling Trump's son-in-law's financial dealings "greasy."

The book was based on over 200 interviews Wolff conducted with senior White House staffers, confidantes and even Trump himself, the book's publisher said. It is due to hit stores next Tuesday.

rs/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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