Trump allies defend him against book’s claims

Trump allies defend him against book’s claims

Officials from Donald Trump’s administration and his allies are rallying to his defence in a bid to contain the fallout from an explosive new book that questions the president’s fitness for office.

Chief policy adviser Stephen Miller, in a combative appearance Sunday on CNN, described the book as "nothing but a pile of trash through and through".

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Mr Trump was "completely fit" to lead the country.

"These are from people who just have not accepted the fact that Mr Trump is the United States president and I’m sorry for them in that," Mr Pompeo, who gives Mr Trump his regular intelligence briefings, said on Fox News Sunday.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said she visits the White House once a week, and "no one questions the stability of the president."

"I’m always amazed at the lengths people will go to, to lie for money and for power. This is like taking it to a whole new low," she told ABC’s "This Week."

Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House portrays the 45th president as a leader who does not understand the weight of his office and whose competence is questioned by aides.

That picture, said Mr Miller, "is so contrary to reality, to the experience of those who work with him."

Mr Miller also criticised MrTrump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who is quoted at length by Wolff, saying it was "tragic and unfortunate" that Mr Bannon "would make these grotesque comments so out of touch with reality and obviously so vindictive".

Mr Bannon’s description of a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York between Donald Trump Jr, Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer as "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" particularly infuriated the president, who released a seething statement accusing Mr Bannon of having "lost his mind."

Trying to heal the damage and make amends, Mr Bannon released a statement Sunday praising Trump Jr as "both a patriot and a good man" and insisting his description was aimed at former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, not the president’s son.

"I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency," Mr Bannon said in the statement, which was first obtained by the news site Axios.

Mr Miller’s interview on CNN’s State of the Union quickly grew heated, with Mr Miller criticising CNN’s coverage and moderator Jake Tapper accusing Mr Miller of speaking to an audience of one: his boss.

Mr Tapper abruptly ended the interview, saying: "I think I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time."

Soon after, Mr Trump tweeted:

The president took the extraordinary step on Saturday of using Twitter to defend his fitness for office, insisting he is "like, really smart" and, indeed, a "very stable genius."

He pressed the case again on Sunday as he prepared to depart Camp David, where he spent the weekend meeting with Republican congressional leaders, top aides and Cabinet members.

On Sunday, two days after the book’s release, WikiLeaks tweeted a link to an electronic image of the text.

Posting the text of a book without permission would violate copyright restrictions and potentially damage sales. Yet, hours after WikiLeaks tweeted the link, "Fire and Fury" remained Number One on Amazon’s lists of hardcover and ebook bestsellers.

AP and Digital desk

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