Stephen Miller, President Trump's top policy adviser, on Sunday eviscerated former White House colleague Stephen K. Bannon over comments attributed to him in a new book, calling him an “angry, vindictive person” whose “grotesque comments are so out of touch with reality.”
Miller said the “whole White House staff is deeply disappointed in his comments” in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” a scathing tell-all by Michael Wolff that paints Trump as unprepared for the presidency and portrays his aides as concerned about his performance.
“It reads like an angry, vindictive person spouting off to a highly discredible author,” Miller told host Jake Tapper on CNN's “State of the Union.”
“The book is best understood as a work of poorly written fiction. The author is a garbage author of a garbage book. . . . The betrayal of the president in this book is so contrary to the reality of those who work with him,” Miller continued.
Shortly after Miller's appearance on the show — which ended when Tapper abruptly cut him off, calling him “obsequious” and concerned only about “one viewer” — Trump tweeted about the “Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author.”
On NBC's "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd asked Wolff if he left out anything in the book that would have been favorable to Trump because it didn't fit the narrative.
"If I left out anything it was probably stuff even more damning. It’s that bad," Wolff responded. "It's an extraordinary moment in time. The last several days focused on my book are proof of this. What happened here? What’s going on here?"
Wolff went so far as to raise the specter of the 25th Amendment, in which a president's Cabinet could attempt to remove him from office for being unable to perform his duties, although experts said that amendment was designed with the idea of a president being incapacitated by, for example, a coma.
"It is not an exaggeration or unreasonable to say this is 25th amendment kind of stuff," Wolff said. Asked if folks in the White House talked about that possibility, he added: All the time. They would say... we're not at 25th amend level yet. The 25th amendment concept is alive every day in the White House."
But he added that the president's aides refuse to confront him. "It’s how to look away, how not to confront," he said. "It's how to rationalize."
"Read the book," Wolff added, "and see if you don't feel alarmed."
Miller and Bannon were once thought to be kindred spirits — both hard-liners on immigration who sought to exploit Trump's populist rhetoric to advance a nationalist agenda. But as Bannon began to lose favor in the West Wing, Miller reportedly realigned himself with a faction led by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka Trump.
In his book, Wolff relied heavily on on-the-record interviews with Bannon, who was critical of other White House aides and Trump's children. Bannon referred to a 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russia lawyer at Trump Tower as “treasonous” and suggested that it was highly likely that Trump Jr. told his father about the meeting. That meeting has been scrutinized by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as part of his probe into the Trump campaign's contact with Russian officials during the 2016 election.
Asked whether the president was aware of the meeting at the time, Miller said Bannon was not present and therefore “is not even a remotely credible source on any of it.”
Growing frustrated as Miller began evading questions and repeating his talking points, and glowing praise of Trump, Tapper cut him off early and went to a commercial. "I think I've wasted enough of my viewers' time," Tapper said, as Miller attempted to keep talking.
"Welcome back to planet Earth," Tapper said to viewers after the show returned. But Trump was eager for the last word.