WASHINGTON - Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has called a June 2016 meeting with a group of Russians attended by Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s top campaign officials "treasonous" and "unpatriotic."
According to the excerpts from Michael Wolff's book seen Wednesday by Reuters, Bannon expressed astonishment over the meeting in Trump Tower in New York in which a Russian lawyer was said to be offering damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The book, reportedly based on more than 200 interviews, is set to be released next week by publisher Henry Holt and Co.
"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 said in the book.
Bannon was formerly the executive chairman of the far-right news outlet. Although there is no clear links between him and the reports, that West Wing staff at the White House believe Bannon is the source of the leaks.
"Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon added.
In July, reports revealed that Senior White House adviser and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with other Trump campaign aides, last year held a meeting with a Russian lawyer who offered compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 presidential rival.
Trump: Bannon has 'lost his mind'
Trump on Wednesday blasted Bannon for his criticism.
"When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," Trump said in a statement. "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."
"Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was," the president continued.
Trump has long denounced leaks of sensitive information to media, including the details of his confidential Oval Office phone conversations with other world leader as well as other White House secrets.