Journalist Michael Wolff's new book hasn't even come out yet, but it has already proven to be quite incendiary. While writing Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Wolff had a surprising amount of access to President Trump's administration officials, including former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. In interviews with Wolff, Bannon reportedly called Ivanka Trump "dumb as a brick," among other comments.
As detailed in The Wall Street Journal's manuscript review, Bannon said of Ivanka:
She was a nonevent on the campaign. She became a White House staffer and that's when people suddenly realized she's as dumb as a brick. A little marketing savvy and has a look but as far as understanding actually how the world works and what politics is and what it means — nothing. Once you expose that, you lose such credibility.
Bannon received a cease and desist letter from Donald Trump's lawyers on Wednesday, following these and other disparaging comments about the president and his family. However, despite insisting that he personally still supports the president, Bannon's comments about Ivanka in Wolff's book were not the first time he criticized Trump's daughter.
During a rally for Roy Moore last month, Bannon appeared to take a shot at Ivanka. When sexual misconduct allegations against Moore came to light — allegations that Moore has denied — Ivanka spoke out against him, saying that "there's a special place in hell for people who prey on children." Bannon took the stage in support of Moore shortly thereafter, ahead of Alabama's special election, and told the crowd that there's a "special place in hell for Republicans who should know better."
Bannon also slammed Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner in a Vanity Fair profile last May, describing "Javanka" as "the railhead of all bad decisions": according to Bannon, "Ivanka was a fount of bad advice during the campaign."
In the same profile, Bannon described an Oval Office meeting during which he accused Ivanka of being "the queen of leaks"; Ivanka allegedly responded by calling Bannon a "f***ing liar." By this point, tension had been mounting in Trump's White House for some time, and Bannon had reportedly labeled Ivanka and her husband as "the Democrats."
The apparent feud between Bannon and Ivanka was again highlighted just before Bannon's departure from the White House. Following a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last August, Ivanka and Kushner reportedly urged Trump to apologize after he blamed the violence at the rally on "many sides." Conversely, Newsweek reported that Bannon believed any apology would be "too late" and not "good enough."
In addition to sending a cease and desist letter, Trump — who has largely defended Bannon since the latter's White House exit — slammed his former chief strategist in a blistering statement on Wednesday.
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.
Moreover — and not for the first time — Trump suggested in his statement that Bannon did not play a significant role in his election victory.
Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party. Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn't as easy as I make it look.
Most notably, Trump directly referenced Bannon's involvement with Wolff's book, which he described as "phony."
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.
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House won't be released until Jan. 9, but the book seems to have already exposed a major schism between Trump and Bannon.