President Donald Trump was “disgusted” and “furious” by Steve Bannon’s allegations of treason and other tidbits from the new book Fire and Fury. But just because Trump claims his former White House Chief Strategist “lost his mind” after getting fired doesn’t mean they couldn’t stay in touch.
So said Press Secretary Sarah Sanders at today’s Bannon-dominated White House presser. Asked why Trump would continue to talk to Bannon after the latter lost his White House job (and his mind), Sanders said the pair’s continued (but now kaput) dialogue “doesn’t mean he can’t hold that position.”
Although she mostly steered reporters back to Trump’s earlier, blistering statement on claims Bannon makes in Michael Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Sanders did confirm that Trump was “furious” and “disgusted” by what he read, or heard about. (Sanders said “some individuals” at the White House have copies of the yet-to-drop book.)
Sanders also addressed Trump’s recent “bigger button” boasts. His nuclear button is greater than Kim Jong-un’s, she confirmed, then noted that, yes, they all know there’s no real button. The press secretary spent most of the presser batting away questions raised by Bannon’s claims that Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was “treasonous.”
“I think furious, disgusted would probably fit when you make such outrageous and completely false claims against the administration and his family,” Sanders said about POTUS’ reaction to the book.
Asked about the political impact of the Trump-Bannon split, Sanders insisted “the president’s base is very solid.”
More often than not, though, Sanders deflected any Bannon questions with a variation of “I think the press statement is extremely clear what his position on Mr. Bannon is.”
Earlier today, Trump released a statement — Sanders said he wrote it himself but didn’t know if he did so by hand — that said Bannon has “lost his mind” and had “very little” to do with Trump’s “historic victory.”
Asked specifically whether Trump Jr. had committed treason, Sanders said, “That is a ridiculous accusation” and referred to a previous 60 Minutes interview in which Bannon called allegations of Russian collusion “a total farce.”
Wolff, Sanders said, “never sat down with the president” aside from one five- to seven-minute conversation since Trump took office. In his book, Wolff writes that Trump encouraged White House cooperation with the author.
Sanders said that, from what the White House has gathered, Wolff had “roughly a dozen interactions” with White House officials, “95% done at the request of Mr. Bannon.”
When NBC’s Peter Alexander raised the issue of Trump’s “mental fitness,” Sanders pivoted to “the mental fitness of the leader of North Korea.”
And about those Dishonest Media Awards announced recently by Trump and planned for Monday? “I certainly don’t want to spoil anything, but my guess is quite a few individuals could be up for those awards.”
Asked if the press actually would be invited to the “awards” event, she said, “We’ll have to wait and see what happens on Monday.”