WASHINGTON — Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, blasted Donald Trump Jr. and other senior members of Trump’s campaign team for agreeing to meet with a group of Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s—, and I happen to think it is all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon is quoted in Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” according to The Guardian, which viewed a copy.
The June 2016 meeting was between Trump Jr., campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who had promised damaging documents on Clinton. In emails that were revealed last summer, Trump Jr. appears eager to set up the meeting with the notion that it would yield damaging information about Clinton, although he later said the meeting was a bust. Veselnitskaya has ties to the Russian government, and other individuals with links to the government were also present.
Bannon joined the campaign in August of 2016, serving as its CEO.
“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 as saying. “They didn’t have any lawyers.”
He suggested that the meeting should have instead been kept at arms length, between the Russians and perhaps campaign attorneys. He said any information could have been sent “down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication.”
He mocked Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner for agreeing to the meeting. “That’s the brain trust they had,” he said.
Bannon also predicted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation would be “all about money laundering,” suggesting that Kushner would be particularly vulnerable.
“It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner s—,” he said.