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Wolff Rejects Bannon's Apology, Calls Trump a 'Wing Nut'

Wolff Rejects Bannon's Apology, Calls Trump a 'Wing Nut'
Michael Wolff (AP)

By    |   Monday, 08 January 2018 10:06 AM

"Fire and Fury" author Michael Wolff Monday rejected former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's reframing of comments quoted in the book that he considered Donald Trump Jr.'s decision to meet with Russians as treason, insisting that the Breitbart executive was talking about the president's son.

He also told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that when you talk to the president, "you think 'this is a wing nut.'"

"Listen, I like Steve," Wolff told the program during a lengthy interview. "I'm grateful for the time he gave me, the insights he gave me. I don't want to put him in more hot water than he is already in, but . . . it was not directed at [Paul] Manafort. It was directed directly at Don. Jr."

Overall, Wolff said from everything he's seen, he does not think Trump is fit to be president.

"It's essentially what the story of the book is, but in brief because he's only interested in just himself," said Wolff. "He's just interested in his immediate gratification in this moment. There is nothing beyond that . . .

"Every time you speak to him, you think, 'this is a wing nut.' There is something really alarming in ways that you cannot even begin to describe. It's like you're riveted to the seat."

On Sunday, Bannon walked back many of the comments attributed to him in Wolff's new best-seller, taking particular aim at claims that he'd insulted the president's son.

"My comments were aimed at Paul Manafort, a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate," Bannon said, referring to Trump's former campaign manager.

"He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends. To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr."

"He spells out exactly why Don Jr. had this meeting, that it was not even so much to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, but it was because in the context of the campaign, they wanted to get rid of Corey Lewandowski," said Bannon. "He had to do something to show his father he had the stuff."

Wolff also denied the president's contention that he does not know him.

"I've known him since the 90s," said Wolff. "When I was at New York magazine, I was one of the people he used to call up to complain about something. Mostly, it was to complain about something that had not been said, why he had not been in an article."

Also on Monday, Wolff said that Bannon and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway were the original contacts to get him into the White House.

Further, he said he believes Bannon talked to him because he'd gone into the White House with a "very particular agenda," and that he had decided it would not be implemented.

"The opposite [happened] as Trump veered more toward [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell," said Wolff. "That was absolutely away from Steve Bannon.

"Then I think Steve Bannon was kind of horrified by the fact that this White House was being run by Donald Trump's family. People who were not experienced — and who were functionally Democrats."

Wolff also discussed the president's mental capability, after Trump over the weekend tweeted about his intelligence and fitness for office, and said his coverage of the president was different because he was doing a book, not a news story.

"I've written twice in my column a quote about one of people closest to Donald Trump during the campaign saying he's got early stage of dementia," show co-host Joe Scarborough told Wolff.

"He repeats the same stories over and over again. His father had it. And it's getting worse, and not a single person who works for him doesn't know it. He didn't think he was going to win. Twice, The Washington Post would not let me put that in my column."

"I am in the position of being the guy who didn't have to say anything," said Wolff. "I kept my mouth shut for the better part of a year, and listen, I was just the black hole. Just listening to everything.

"And then I could say it because I'm not going back . . . I'm getting some incoming from the daily journalists who cover this, because they see this in a daily journalism context instead of seeing this as a book. A book is an entirely different thing. I am telling a story."

The bigger picture of the book, he added is that "all White Houses are fraught places. But they're a whole. People who work for presidents, support a president, they're on his side, they're on his team. They may not like the other people in the White House, but it's a relatively coherent view at the end of the day."

But in Trump's White House, "everybody in this White House, and I keep saying this 100 percent because it is 100 percent of the people closest to the president, to Donald Trump believe that there is something wrong here," said Wolff.

"Something fundamentally wrong, something that scares them. As a matter of fact, if there's any reason they stay in the White House now, it's because they're scared, and they believe they have a responsibility to the American people."

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"Fire and Fury" author Michael Wolff Monday rejected former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's reframing of comments quoted in the book that he considered Donald Trump Jr.'s decision to meet with Russians as treason...
wolff, bannon, trump, book comments
Monday, 08 January 2018 10:06 AM
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