US President Donald Trump slammed former adviser Steve Bannon, claiming he had "lost his mind," after he was quoted calling a Trump campaign meeting "treasonous".
"Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency," Trump said in a statement. "When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."
He added: "Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country ... Steve doesn't represent my base-he's only in it for himself."
The comments came in the wake of an explosive report in which Bannon was quoted mocking a June 2016 meeting between key members of the Trump campaign and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr, agreed to the meeting after an intermediary promised "dirt" from Russia on campaign rival Hillary Clinton.
Trump issued his fiery response in an official White House statement hours after the report first surfaced. He accused Bannon, once thought to be his most trusted adviser, of leaking false information to the media, and downplayed his former White House role.
"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," Trump said.
Meanwhile, Bannon was seen as a key architect of the Trump campaign, helping the candidate tap into his populist message and pushing him towards more nationalist ideas. He was also a driving force behind Trump administration policies like the travel ban and the repeal of Obama-era regulations.
He left the White House in August, amid controversy over the President's response to a white supremacist rally in Virginia. Close advisers had long urged Trump to oust his chief strategist, and the President himself was beginning to suspect him of leaking to the press, according to the New York Times.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team