President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused former adviser Steve Bannon of having "lost his mind" after he was fired from the White House staff, saying that the latter has "nothing to do" with his presidency after he had criticized a meeting with Russians that Trump's son held in mid-2016.
"Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," said Trump in a hard-hitting statement released by the White House on Wednesday.
"Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating 17 candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party," the president added.
Trump unloaded on Bannon after the British daily The Guardian published an extract of journalist Michael Wolff's forthcoming book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" in which the former adviser to the US president said the June 2016 New York meeting between Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort was "treasonous" and "unpatriotic."
The president's statement constitutes an abrupt break with Bannon, who was his last campaign chair and then became a key strategy adviser after his January 2017 inauguration.
Bannon was fired by Trump last August in the shakeup after John Kelly was appointed chief of staff and returned to a key position with ultraconservative Breitbart News.
After Bannon's departure from the White House, he remained an informal adviser frequently consulted by Trump, who continued to publicly defend him.
However, Trump said on Wednesday that "Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn't as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country."
The president went on to accuse Bannon of being too tight with reporters and leaking "false information" while he worked in the White House.
Bannon said in his interview with Wolff that "The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower ... with no lawyers."
"Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, ... you should have called the FBI immediately," he added.
Trump also lambasted Bannon over the recent special Senate election in Alabama, saying that "Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than 30 years by Republicans."
Bannon had backed the GOP candidate Roy Moore even after he was accused by several women of sexual assault and misconduct with teenage girls, and he ultimately convinced Trump to back Moore as well only to have the candidate go down to defeat to Democrat Doug Jones.