Steve Bannon, one of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chiefs and White House advisors, has described a meeting between Russians and senior campaign staff in the Trump Tower “treasonous,” “unpatriotic,” and “bad shit.”
The Guardian, which obtained an advanced copy of journalist Michael Wolff’s forthcoming Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, revealed Bannon’s remarks. The book is an insider look into the tumultuous first nine month’s of Trump’s presidency.
Bannon’s criticism targets a meeting on June 9, 2016 between top Trump campaign staff—son Donald Trump Jr., then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner—and British-born publicist Rob Goldstone, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian-born lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, and Russian-American businessman Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze.
The New York Times reported about the meeting in July, after the paper learned of emails in which Goldstone promised Trump Jr. information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Trump Jr. responded, writing, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
“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 is quoted saying. “They didn’t have any lawyers.”
“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,” Bannon continued, according to Wolff.
Bannon was also quoted as saying, “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
President Trump responded on Wednesday to Bannon’s critical comments by saying, “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” according to the New York Times.
During the 2016 campaign, the FBI started an investigation into whether Russia tried to influence the presidential election. Following Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller took over the inquiry shortly after President Trump firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Mueller’s team has brought charges against several former campaign and White House officials. Former national security advisor Michael Flynn and former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulous pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former senior aide Rick Gates were charged with 12 counts, including conspiracy to launder money and lying to the FBI.