Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is calling a 2016 meeting between senior Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer they believed had dirt on Hillary Clinton “treasonous.”
In an interview for a coming book by Michael Wolff, Bannon slammed Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner (President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a close campaign and White House adviser) and Paul Manafort (his campaign chairman at the time of the meeting who has been indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller).
“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,” Bannon continued, according to the Guardian. “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.”
The Guardian obtained a copy of the book and first reported Bannon’s comments.
Bannon also reportedly told Wolff that Mueller’s investigation is focused on money laundering. Two White House spokesmen had not responded to a request for comment about Bannon’s charges.
The meeting on June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower in New York with Natalia Veselnitskaya — whom a Trump family business associate described to Donald Trump Jr. in an email as a “Russian government attorney” — was premised on her delivering Kremlin-supplied information the associate assured Trump’s eldest son “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
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In the June 2016 email exchange, Trump Jr. replied, “I love it,” to the associate, entertainment publicist Rob Goldstone.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information,” Goldstone wrote to Trump Jr., “but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
The president, Trump Jr., and others in their orbit have downplayed the significance of the meeting. Trump said in July that “most people would have taken that meeting.”