Steve Bannon Quoted As Calling Trump Tower Meeting With Russians ‘Treasonous’

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was quoted in Fire and Fury, a book about the Trump White House by journalist Michael Wolff. Jonathan Bachman/Reuters hide caption

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Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was quoted in Fire and Fury, a book about the Trump White House by journalist Michael Wolff.

Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist and campaign CEO, once called a now-famous meeting among Donald Trump Jr., campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and a group of Russians “treasonous,” according to accounts of an upcoming book.

Bannon is being quoted making the remarks in Fire and Fury, a book about the Trump White House by journalist Michael Wolff. After The Guardian cited an advance copy of the book (which is being released next week), news of Bannon’s comments quickly spread.

The meeting took place in June 2016, but it wasn’t publicly revealed until last summer. Discussing it with Wolff, Bannon reportedly said, “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Wolff quotes Bannon as saying, “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. They didn’t have any lawyers,” according to The Guardian.

The members of Trump’s inner circle were drawn to the meeting by the promise of damaging information about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. They were joined at Trump Tower by Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, British-born businessman Rob Goldstone, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, and Soviet-born American businessman Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze.

The Trump Tower meeting has been a focal point in reports about the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into Russia’s attempts to influence last year’s U.S. election.

Discussing the president’s son and the investigation’s potential path, Bannon reportedly told Wolff, “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

When Goldstone contacted Donald Trump Jr. about the potential for dirt on Clinton, Trump Jr. replied, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

After news of the meeting became public, Trump Jr. said the Russians had not produced any “meaningful information.”

Rather than having a high-profile sit-down, Bannon said, according to The Guardian, the Trump group should have restricted it to “a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people.”

The Justice Department has produced evidence that Russian agents “began reaching out to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign as early as March 2016,” as NPR reported in October.

The figures from Trump’s campaign or administration who have been accused of federal crimes as a result of Mueller’s investigation range from Manafort (on money-laundering charges) to former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos (both of whom pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents).