President Trump slammed Steve Bannon as having "lost his mind" Wednesday—but instead of firing back at his former boss, Bannon described Trump as a "great man." The former chief White House strategist declined to comment at length on Trump's remarks during his Breitbart News Tonight radio show Wednesday night, CNN reports. In response to a caller, Bannon said: "The president of the United States is a great man. You know, I support him day in and day out." In his blistering statement Wednesday, Trump, outraged over comments attributed to Bannon in upcoming Michael Wolff book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, said his former campaign manager "has nothing to do" with him or his presidency. In other developments:
- Cease-and-desist. Trump's lawyers have sent Bannon a cease-and-desist letter, accusing him of violating a nondisclosure agreement by speaking to Wolff, the BBC reports. The letter warns that legal action is imminent because Bannon broke the agreement by "making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company."
- "Disgusted." White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump was "furious" and "disgusted" at the "outrageous and completely false claims" Wolff's book attributes to Bannon, the AP reports. She called the book, which Wolff says was based on more than 200 interviews, "trashy tabloid fiction" and said Wolff "never actually sat down with the president." The book, among other things, describes a chaotic administration and claims Trump never expected to win the election.
- Bannon's foes celebrate. Bannon's political foes rejoiced at what appeared to be an unmendable break between him and Trump, the Hill reports. "Congrats to @POTUS Trump for pulverizing loud mouth self promoter Bannon," tweeted GOP Rep. Pete King. "Time for Bannon to disappear or find work in a circus."
- "Shot on the South Lawn and run over by a tank." Politico looks at the months of tension that led up to what it calls the most dramatic falling-out between a president and a former aide in recent history. "Bannon was shot on the South Lawn and run over by a tank and the president shifted in gear and ran over him again," says GOP strategist Ed Rollins. "I've never seen anybody blown up like he was."
- Trump fumes. Insiders tell the Washington Post that Trump spent much of Wednesday fuming about Wolff's book while his aides scrambled to find copies. The sources say Trump, who had been in an upbeat mood the previous day, ranted at others in the White House who had talked to Wolff. The author was apparently allowed to wander the White House without an escort and was often seen in Bannon's office.
- Trump Jr.'s reaction. The president wasn't the only Donald Trump laying into Bannon on Wednesday. In a series of tweets, Donald Trump Jr.—whose 2016 meeting with Russians was called "treasonous" by Bannon, according to Wolff's book—slammed Bannon for turning his opportunity in the White House "into a nightmare of backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying & undermining the President." He mocked Bannon for having lost even the support of Breitbart commenters, leaving him with "umm, nothing."
- Backing away. Some Republican candidates endorsed by Bannon have been downplaying the importance of his support, and sources tell the Washington Post that he has lost the support of billionaire backer Rebekah Mercer, whose family owns a stake in Breitbart. The sources say Mercer was angered when Bannon allegedly told other donors that she would support him if he ran for president—and she feels that Breitbart's "core constituency" of "Trump Deplorables" will always support Trump over Bannon.
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