President Donald Trump ripped into former White House strategist Steve Bannon in a statement Wednesday, blasting his former campaign chief executive for losing his mind, having nothing to do with his election victory, and being a shameless self-promoter who exaggerated his own importance.
"Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency," Trump said in the 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 scorching statement appears to be a direct response to Bannon's reported remarks in a soon-to-be-published book that Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russians at Trump Tower in 2016 was "treasonous" and had likely involved Trump himself. Bannon also said in the book that Robert Mueller's Russia investigation was all about "money laundering" and would go right through Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner.
Bannon joined Trump's campaign as its chief executive in August 2016. Even after Bannon was fired from the White House last August, he and Trump spoke on the phone and did not appear to be at loggerheads.
Trump added in Wednesday's statement that, now that Bannon is "on his own," he has learned Trump's victory was not as easy as he thought. Trump blamed Bannon for bolstering Roy Moore, the controversial Republican Senate candidate who was dogged by sexual misconduct allegations and lost a special election in Alabama last month to Democrat Doug Jones.
"Steve doesn't represent my base-he's only in it for himself," Trump said. "Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spends 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."
Trump added that Bannon "pretends to have influence" to fool journalists with "no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books."