WASHINGTON (ViaNews) – Instead of starting the new year focused on a government spending bill or infrastructure, the White House has been consumed by accusations made by former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon in a new book.
Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” includes comments from Bannon suggesting a pre-election meeting between the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer as being “treasonous.” Bannon also suggested that the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, was “dumb as a brick.”
Reports about the contents of the book have prompted President Donald Trump’s lawyer Charles Harder to file a cease and desist order against Bannon, suggesting that “legal action is imminent,” according to The Guardian and ABC News.
In a letter to Bannon, Harder said “you have breached the agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the company, disclosing confidential information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the company.”
The book has also prompted Trump critics to question his ability to serve as commander in chief.
During her afternoon press conference Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended questions about Trump’s mental capacity to serve as the President.
“It’s disgraceful and laughable. If he was unfit, he probably wouldn’t be sitting there, wouldn’t have defeated the most qualified group of candidates the Republican Party has ever seen,” Sanders said, calling Trump “an incredibly good and strong leader,” as quoted by The Hill.
Bannon has also been hit hard by the release of the book.
On Thursday, Rebekah Mercer, a financial backer of Bannon and his Breitbart News website, rebuked Bannon in a statement reported on by The Washington Post.
“I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected,” Mercer said, according to The Post. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements.”
Earlier in the week, President Trump issued a statement regarding the book, suggesting Bannon “lost his mind” and that “Steve doesn’t represent my base – he’s only in it for himself.”
Bannon once held favor with Trump after taking over the presidential campaign in August 2016. After being elected, Trump appointed Bannon chief strategist, but arguments within the White House pushed Bannon out just eight months after assuming the position.
Now, the White House is battling a book, which seems to have taken away most of the momentum gained following the passage of a tax reform bill prior the Christmas break.
“It’s a huge distraction and takes away momentum from their recent legislative wins,” said GOP strategist Alex Conant, to The Hill. “I can’t imagine a worse way for a White House to start its second year. It feeds [Trump’s] detractors’ worst fears and it needlessly divides his supporters. He is fueling the opposition while fighting with his base.”