President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Charles J. Harder, threatened former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon with legal action on Wednesday over his purported “disparaging comments” in author Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
Bannon, for his part, had only positive things to say about Trump during a Wednesday night Sirius XM radio spot.
What’s the background here?
New York Magazine on Wednesday published an extensive write-up of Wolff’s book, which details reported chaos in both the White House and within the Trump administration.
Trump and Bannon on Wednesday entered into an extremely heated war of words as Bannon accused Trump campaign members of being “unpatriotic” as well as “treasonous.”
In a White House statement, Trump fired back that Bannon had “lost his mind.”
“When [Bannon] was fired, he lost not only his job, he lost his mind,” the statement read.
Trump in the statement also accused Bannon of being a source of White House leaks.
“[Bannon] spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was,” the statement said. “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.”
Statement from the White House on Steve Bannon: “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” pic.twitter.com/jv68bm9kO5
— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) January 3, 2018
To read more about the backstory between Trump and Bannon, click here.
What did Trump’s lawyer say?
Harder — due to Bannon’s purported statements contained in “Fire and Fury” — sent a cease and desist letter to Bannon noting that his statements violated confidentiality and non-disparagement agreements.
According to Harder, Bannon’s reported comments violated those agreements by “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[.]”
Harder, in a statement to ABC News, said:
On behalf of our clients, legal notice was issued today to Stephen K. Bannon, that his actions of communicating with author Michael Wolff regarding an upcoming book give rise to numerous legal claims including defamation by libel and slander, and breach of his written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement with our clients. Legal action is imminent.
In Wolff’s book, Bannon is quoted as saying that a 2016 Trump Tower meeting that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort held with a Russian attorney was “treasonous.” The book also alleged Bannon made disparaging statements about the Trump administration and the Trump family at large.
The cease and desist letter warned that Bannon should no longer continue engaging in insulting commentary about Trump or his family.
“Legal action is imminent,” the letter warned.
What is Bannon saying about Trump now?
Bannon on Wednesday night called Trump a “great man” and noted his unwavering support of the president.
The Washington Post reported that Bannon, speaking on Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Tonight, said, “The president is a great man.”
“You know I support him day in and day out,” Bannon was quoted as saying.
Bannon has not yet addressed the “Fire and Fury” debacle to any other extent, nor has he addressed the cease and desist letter.
Wolff’s book is scheduled to be published by Henry Holt & Co. on Jan. 9.