The author of a book that has driven a wedge between President Donald Trump and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said Monday that Bannon’s recent statement backing away from his criticism of the President’s eldest son is “not true.”
“Steve didn’t say anything that I got wrong. He merely said that it wasn’t Don Jr. he was talking about; it was Paul Manafort,” Michael Wolff said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
CNN obtained a statement on Sunday from a source close to Bannon in which the former top Trump adviser praised Donald Trump Jr. and said his comments about an infamous meeting in Trump Tower were aimed at then-campaign chief Paul Manafort, not Trump Jr.
Wolff’s book quotes Bannon as saying the 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials, including Trump Jr. and Manafort, and a Russian lawyer purportedly offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton, was “treasonous.”
Bannon said in Sunday’s statement that his criticism of the meeting was directed at Manafort, “a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate. He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends.”
In the statement, Bannon called Trump Jr. a “patriot and a good man.”
But Wolff said Bannon’s assertion his comments were not about Trump Jr. is false.
“I am very fond of Steve,” Wolff said. “I’ve gotten very fond of him, and obviously he’s been very helpful, incredibly insightful.”
But, Wolff added about Bannon’s latest claim, “This is not true.”
Wolff said Bannon told him that Trump’s eldest son went into the meeting to “impress his father.”
“Don, Jr. did this to impress his father because he wanted to oust (former Trump campaign manager) Corey Lewandowski and take over the campaign, and Steve said so he had to, he had to show his father he had the stuff. So this was definitely about Don Jr.”
In the statement expressing “regret” for his delay in responding to reporting about Trump Jr., Bannon did not deny quotes attributed to him, including portions of the book where he speaks negatively about Jared Kushner or his statement that the special counsel investigation could hurt Trump by looking into money laundering.
CNN has not independently verified all the assertions in Wolff’s book.