I missed this yesterday. Why didn’t he put out the statement anyway after POTUS attacked him? Kissing ass is the only thing that can heal the rift.
Maybe it’s a #WAR thing. Kissing Don Jr’s ass proactively would be cuck-ish but kissing it after the president humiliated him publicly would be nuclear cuckery. Bannon revels in his tough-guy shtick almost as much as Trump does. He probably concluded that to prostrate himself under duress would do more damage to that shtick than to keep silent and endure whatever Trump has planned for him.
In the unreleased statement, Bannon had planned to call Trump Jr. a patriot and dispute the account in Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” in which Bannon described Trump Jr. as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” for setting up a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer.
Bannon and his allies did not see a need to release the statement once Trump accused his former top campaign aide of having “lost his mind.” They believe the president’s statement effectively ended the relationship between the two men…
Bannon would have also disputed Wolff’s account by saying he had been taken out of context — that he doesn’t believe Trump Jr. intentionally did anything wrong and that he only meant to convey his frustration that Trump Jr., a political novice, had created a mess for his father.
Yeah, that makes no sense. Remember what Bannon supposedly told Wolff about Don Jr’s and Jared’s meeting with the Russian lawyer: “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.” There’s no way to reconcile “treasonous” with him supposedly not believing Don Jr intentionally did anything wrong. It’s hard to imagine what context could have blunted the force of that comment either. What probably happened is that Bannon said it to Wolff off the record and Wolff decided it was too juicy not to put it in the book — which would be highly unethical, but Wolff’s never worried too much about ethics. Gabriel Sherman has sized him up right:
For more than a year Wolff viciously attacked journalists, fueling public distrust in the news media in service of buttering up his Trump sources to…write a book that confirms what journalists like @maggieNYT have been reporting all along.
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) January 5, 2018
Essentially, Wolff is the Trump of journalism. Breaks rules and norms to win. Talk about a perfect pairing of writer and subject!
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) January 5, 2018
Wolff seems to have been running a long con on Trump and Bannon, writing and saying flattering things about them during the campaign and early in Trump’s presidency in the expectation that the flattery would entice Trump into granting him access to the West Wing. It worked like a charm. Apparently he has hours of Trump inner-circlers spilling their guts on tape, presumably believing that Wolff was friendly and wouldn’t attribute to them the most lurid stuff they told him off the record/on background. He knifed them all, Bannon most gravely.
And now we have this amazing spectacle on Twitter:
“Sloppy Steve” is his finest work since tarring Jeb Bush with the “low-energy” label forever. Wolff, by the way, not only denies Trump’s claim that he had zero access to the White House (“What was I doing there if he didn’t want me to be there?”) but claims that he spent three hours with the president himself on the project. If he has tape of that, he could blow Trump up with it by publishing it at any moment. I asked yesterday but I’ll ask again: What the hell were he and Bannon thinking giving Michael Wolff the run of the place? Bannon placed his entire career in Wolff’s hands by chattering to him the way he did.
Erick Erickson has a smart take on the book’s credibility. It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees, since there are obvious errors in Wolff’s book: Trump surely did know who John Boehner was and literally no one except Wolff himself thinks Stephen Miller is an ignoramus on policy, as is alleged at one point. But those claims came from somewhere, and that’s the larger truth of the work. There’s a ton of backbiting among the people in Trump’s orbit, Bannon foremost among them, and seemingly little regard for the president himself. The White House is as chaotic as the “fake news media” has cracked it up to be. Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei of Axios published their own “companion piece” to Wolff’s book, in fact, listing at length various claims made by Wolff’s sources that have also been made by their sources over the past year. (E.g. “If a wackadoo moment occurred on the occasions … when his remarks careened in no clear direction, his staff had to go into intense method-acting response. It took absolute discipline not to acknowledge what everyone could see.”) Maggie Haberman, the NYT’s star White House reporter, has spent the last few days sniffing that Wolff’s book doesn’t tell you much you wouldn’t have already known by reading the Times or WaPo. That’s why it’s gotten under POTUS’s skin, I think, not because of Bannon’s digs at Don Jr. It’s confirmation of the “fake news” narrative about the White House from people as trusted by MAGAworld as Steve Bannon.
Exit quotation via Allen and VandeHei: “More than half a dozen of the more skilled White House staff are contemplating imminent departures. Many leaving are quite fearful about the next chapter of the Trump presidency.”