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Trump hits back at Steve Bannon: ‘When he was fired, he lost his mind’

President says former strategist ‘is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look’ as Bannon is quoted condemning Trump Tower meeting with Russians

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Trump hits back at Steve Bannon: ‘When he was fired, he lost his mind'” was written by Lauren Gambino, David Smith and Ben Jacobs in Washington, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 3rd January 2018 21.24 UTC

Donald Trump lashed out at his former chief strategist Steve Bannon on Wednesday, accusing him of having “lost his mind” after the one-time aide made explosive accusations against the president and his family in a new book.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.

“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 17 candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.”

Critics pointed, however, to a tweet issued on 17 August 2017, in which Trump wrote: “I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service. He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton – it was great! Thanks S.”

Bannon was chief executive officer of the Trump campaign in its final three months and then White House chief strategist for seven months before returning to the rightwing Breitbart News.

According to Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Bannon told author Michael Wolff the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”. He also reportedly made a range of claims about the likely targets and results of the investigation into Russian election meddling by the special counsel Robert Mueller.

In the book, which was obtained by the Guardian ahead of publication from a bookseller in New England, Wolff paints a picture of a White House in chaos, locked in internecine warfare with even some of Trump’s closest allies expressing contempt for him.

In his statement, which was issued after New York magazine published its own extensive excerpt of the Wolff book, Trump said: “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.”

Wolff, a former Guardian columnist, told the Guardian in November that he had no agenda in writing the book but wanted to “find out what the insiders were really thinking and feeling”. He enjoyed extraordinary access to Trump and senior officials and advisers, he said, sometimes at critical moments.

On Wednesday, one subject of conversations reported in Wolff’s book, billionaire Trump ally Tom Barrack, told the New York Times he had not made a reported abusive remark about the president.

Steve Bannon at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2017.
Steve Bannon at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2017.
Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said in a written statement that the book was “filled with false and misleading accounts” and was “trashy tabloid fiction”.

At her regular briefing later, she said Trump was “furious” at and “disgusted” by Bannon’s remarks. “Going after the president’s son in an absolutely outrageous way is probably not the best way to curry favour with anybody.”

She described the claim of treason against Trump Jr as “a ridiculous accusation” and pointed to an interview on CBS 60 Minutes in which Bannon had referred to allegations of collusion with Russia as a “farce”. She told reporters: “If anyone’s been inconsistent, it’s been him. It certainly hasn’t been the president or this administration.”

She claimed that Trump and Bannon last spoke in early December. Asked if the former chief strategist was off the list for social invitations to the White House, she replied dryly: “Probably so.”

Sanders claimed that Wolff had “never actually sat down with the president” while researching the book but just had “one brief conversation” of about five to seven minutes. She was also aware of just over a dozen interactions between Wolff and White House officials, “95%” of which were at Bannon’s request. “I know the book has a lot of things that are completely untrue,” she claimed.

Stephanie Grisham, communications director for the first lady, rejected claims in the book that Melania Trump cried when her husband won the presidency.

Donald Trump Jr also jumped into the fray, blasting Bannon in a series of tweets that blamed him for the election of the first Alabama Democrat elected to the Senate in more than a generation.

“Thanks Steve. Keep up the great work,” Trump Jr said, replying to a reporter’s tweet about the swearing-in ceremony of Doug Jones.

Bannon declared a “season of war” on the Republican establishment and has threatened to run disruptive primary challengers against incumbent senators. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said the Alabama special election, in which the controversial Republican Roy Moore, who was accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls, lost to Jones, demonstrates that Bannon’s anti-establishment candidates are unelectable.

After Trump released his statement on Bannon, McConnell’s re-election campaign account tweeted a gif of McConnell grinning.

Trump Jr added later: “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.”

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Dem lawmaker tears into Trump: ‘America will regret the day you were ever born’

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Democrat Rep, Ruben Gallego (AR-07) tore into Trump last night on twitter for exploiting the Parkland massacre. Gallego, a former Marine who served in Iraq, was unusually blunt. Last year he called then president-elect Trump “mentally unstable”. Source: The Hill Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) tore into President Trump after the president suggested the FBI could have… (more…)

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Read the GOP memo

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President Donald Trump has authorized the release of a controversial Republican memo, and has sent word to the House Intelligence Committee the document may be made public, a White House official said.

There were no White House-initiated redactions to the memo, a House aide said.

The extraordinary decision to release the classified four-page memo with a never-before-used House Intelligence Committee rule would escalate the partisan fight over the investigations into Russian election meddling and possible collusion. This will likely have major repercussions for the relationship between the Justice Department and Capitol Hill.

The memo’s release would also threaten to further fracture the frayed relationship between the President and his Justice Department and intelligence community, both of which opposed the release of the document, which is based on classified intelligence. The FBI issued a rare public warning on Wednesday that the memo omits key information that could impact its veracity.

The memo, spearheaded by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, alleges that the FBI used the opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia written by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to secure a FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page without disclosing that the dossier was funded in part by Democratic sources.

In a statement earlier this week, Nunes said, “It’s clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign.”

(CNN)

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Boris Johnson attacks Labour in row over cancelled Trump visit

Foreign secretary says Jeremy Corbyn and London mayor putting US-UK relations at risk after president cancels embassy trip

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Boris Johnson attacks Labour in row over Donald Trump’s cancelled visit” was written by Peter Walker and Heather Stewart, for The Guardian on Friday 12th January 2018 18.54 UTC

Downing Street has accused Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan of jeopardising relations with America for telling Donald Trump he is not welcome in Britain, after the US president called off a planned visit to London in the face of likely mass protests.

In a move that reinforces Theresa May’s determination to remain publicly close to Trump, despite accusations of racism and his liaisons with the far right, Downing Street backed an accusation from the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, that Labour was risking transatlantic ties.

After Trump confirmed in the early hours of Friday that he would not come to officially open the new US embassy, Khan, the London mayor, said the president was not welcome in the city and had “finally got that message”.

Corbyn previously called for people to protest when Trump attended the embassy opening to send the president “a clear message” on actions such as his retweets of the far-right Britain First group.

Johnson tweeted : “The US is the biggest single investor in the UK – yet Khan & Corbyn seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk. We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall.”

The comment initially seemed to take No 10 by surprise and a spokesman initially dismissed the idea that Khan had damaged relations: “No, the US and the UK are natural resilient strong partners and allies and we do more together than any two countries in the world.”

But soon afterwards, Johnson’s comments were endorsed. A Downing Street source said: “Boris expresses himself in his own inimitable way – but we agree that any risk to the crucial US-UK relationship is not in our country’s best interests.”

Trump tweeted that he would not visit to open the embassy, saying the decision was because Barack Obama had sold the previous building in Grosvenor Square “for peanuts” and built an expensive replacement in a poor location in south London. In fact, the move was first planned when George W Bush was president.

Trump is still due to make a state visit to the UK, following an invitation made by May when she visited him shortly after his inauguration. This has been placed on hold, again seemingly due to the threat of protests.

Khan said: “It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city’s values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance.

“His visit next month would, without doubt, have been met by mass peaceful protests. This just reinforces what a mistake it was for Theresa May to rush and extend an invitation of a state visit in the first place.”

The London mayor, who has previously criticised Trump over his comments on terror attacks and immigration policy targeting Muslims, will reiterate his opposition in a speech on Saturday.

Populist movements are “playing on people’s worst fears and creating space for extreme views on immigration, diversity and equality”, Khan is due to tell the Fabian Society’s annual conference. “We’ve seen the impact of this in the US and we cannot allow this narrative to take hold in Britain.”

A Downing Street spokesman said there had never been a confirmation that Trump would open the embassy: “As we’ve said a number of times, a state visit invitation has been extended and accepted, and we will confirm the details in due course.”

He said May and Trump enjoyed a good relationship, adding: “The US is one of our oldest and most valued allies, and our strong and deep partnership will endure.”

The president’s complaints about the new embassy building were contradicted by the US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, who was appointed by Trump.

Writing in London’s Evening Standard newspaper, Johnson said the move from central London to Nine Elms, next to Battersea, was forced by security concerns after 11 September. The new building was the most advanced US embassy in the world and “did not cost the US taxpayer a cent”, he said, being financed by the sale of the old site and other London properties.

It had been expected that Trump would use the embassy visit to hold meetings with May. Officials had been examining plans for him to meet the Queen without a full-blown state banquet.

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