Steve Bannon: There's 'zero' chance Trump Jr. didn't introduce Russians from Trump Tower meeting to Trump
- Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon made a number of bombshell statements about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer and lobbyist at Trump Tower in June 2016.
- Bannon said there was "zero" chance "Don Jr. did not walk these Jumos up to his father's office of the 26th floor."
- He also called the meeting "treasonous" and "unpatriotic."
- Trump has denied any knowledge of the meeting, which is a key focus for special counsel Robert Mueller.
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon made a series of explosive comments about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between members of President Donald Trump's campaign and several Russians, some with known ties to the Kremlin.
In author Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," Bannon zeroed in on the meeting, which included then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, and Trump's son Donald Trump Jr.Manafort, Kushner, and the younger Trump met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer and lobbyist, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who proposed the meeting on the premise of offering dirt on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The meeting was also attended by four others from the Russian side.
Bannon did not join the campaign until August of 2016. After Bannon's comments were first reported on Wednesday, Trump said in a statement: "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."
The Trump Tower meeting is a key focus for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election and whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tip the race in his favor.
Trump Jr. put out multiple statements about the meeting in July when it was first reported. He initially said the group had discussed a program "about the adoption of Russian children," likely related to the 2012 Magnitsky Act. He did not mention that he took the meeting because Veselnitskaya had offered kompromat on Clinton.
When The New York Times reported on Veselnitskaya's offer, Trump Jr. confirmed the detail and said Veselnitskaya had claimed she "had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton." He said the information never came to light.It later emerged that Trump Jr. had known the meeting's purpose beforehand, and he was told that it was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
The elder Trump has denied any knowledge of the meeting. But The Washington Post reported in July that Trump was responsible for drafting his son's initially misleading statement about the meeting while he was returning from the G-20 summit aboard Air Force One.
NBC News reported in August that prosecutors on Mueller's team are "keenly focused" on finding out what Trump knew about the meeting and whether he acted to conceal its purpose.
A source familiar with Mueller's thinking told NBC News that investigators are looking into whether Trump made a "knowingly false statement" when he crafted his son's response to The Times' initial story about the Trump Tower meeting.
Legal experts told Business Insider at the time that it was important for prosecutors to establish Trump's mindset when he dictated Trump Jr.'s statement because it could be critical to proving intent in an obstruction of justice case, which Mueller's team is also reportedly investigating Trump for.