Former UK prime minister Tony Blair has denied allegations contained in a book about Donald Trump that he warned the US President that British agents may have spied on him during the 2016 election.
The new book says Mr Blair had shared a “juicy rumour” with Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, that campaign staff, possibly even Mr Trump himself, had been under surveillance.
But Mr Blair said the reports were false.
“This story is a complete fabrication, I mean literally from beginning to end. I’ve never had such conversation in the White House, outside of the White House, with Jared Kushner, with anybody else,” he said.
“It’s sort of a reflection to me on the crazy state of modern politics. I mean, here’s a story that’s literally an invention that is now half way around the world, with conspiracy theories attached to it.”
Bannon says Trump Tower meeting was ‘treasonous’
The Guardian and the New York Magazine have published excerpts from a new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by journalist Michael Wolff.
In it, Mr Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon is quoted as describing a Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”.
“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,” Mr Bannon said.
“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.”
In response, Mr Trump downplayed Mr Bannon’s influence.
“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,” the President’s statement said.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr Bannon’s description of Mr Trump Jr as treasonous was “a ridiculous accusation”.
The June 9, 2016, meeting involving Mr Trump Jr, the US President’s son-in-law Mr Kushner, and Mr Manafort has become part of federal special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the election.
‘Melania was in tears’ on election night
In the book, Mr Bannon also said he believed the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow would focus on money laundering.
According to the excerpt, Mr Bannon told Mr Wolff:
“They’re going to crack Don Jr like an egg on national TV.”
Mr Bannon is a former Navy officer and Wall Street banker who headed the right-wing website Breitbart before joining the Trump campaign in August 2016.
In the book, based on more than 200 interviews with Mr Trump, senior White House staffers and confidantes, Mr Wolff described a campaign team that expected to lose the 2016 election.
He alleges the Trump family and staffers were angling for high-profile jobs following their expected loss.
In an excerpt published in New York Magazine, Mr Wolff alleges Donald Trump Jr told a friend on election night his father “looked like a ghost” and “Melania was in tears — and not of joy”.
The book paints a picture of a man obsessed with image and the media — “angry that A-level stars had snubbed” his inauguration — and unprepared for the job.