International crises will have to wait. President Trump has a new and even more infuriating nemesis on his hands than even North Korea’s Kim Jong Un: his own former campaign CEO and chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.
Wednesday morning, The Guardian and NBC News published reports based on a book by Michael Wolff, and New York published a juicy, page-turner of an excerpt from the volume. They all add up to a damning image of the Trump administration and especially its leader. The president is depicted as out of touch, borderline illiterate, disrespected by his own closest advisers, sloppy with information, and horrified at winning the election. As I wrote, the most damaging revelations are those that come from Bannon—a Frankenstein’s monster that Trump created, elevating him as an insider and failing to see the danger that posed to himself.
Early Wednesday afternoon, the president fired back at Bannon with some of the more scorching comments he has made publicly—impressive for a president in love with invective. In a written statement distributed by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Trump unloaded:
Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.
Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.
Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.
We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.
That’s a lot to digest. Bannon’s role in the Trump victory is a matter of dispute; Bannon certainly believes he played a large role, and thanks to his often-cozy relations with reporters, he was able to spread that story, irking Trump as early as spring 2017. In other words, Trump is right to point a finger at Bannon for his leaking, as well as for his hot-and-cold relationship with the mainstream media.