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Trump blasts new book as row with his former strategist Bannon widens

By Zeke Miler

US President Donald Trump has said an explosive new book about his first year in office is full of "lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist".

Mr Trump was writing on Twitter a day before the release of Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House - a book that is said to paint the businessman as a leader who does not understand the weight of his office.

Although Mr Trump did not name the book's author Michael Wolff by name, he wrote that he "authorised Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times)".

"Look at this guy's past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!" he added, in an apparent reference to former White House strategist Steve Bannon.

Mr Bannon is depicted in the book as questioning Mr Trump's competence and described a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Junior, Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer as "treasonous".

White House officials described the President as furious at Mr Bannon's criticisms, and White House Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders went as far as to suggest that Mr Bannon ought to be ousted from Breitbart, the populist website he helps run.

"I certainly think that it's something they should look at and consider," she said.

Mr Bannon had helped Mr Trump form a coalition of anti-establishment Republicans, blue-collar working class and economic nationalists that launched him to the White House, but Mr Trump had long ago grown frustrated that Mr Bannon seemed to be overstepping his role as a staffer.

"Bannon has no contingent," former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Wednesday between media interviews to defend Mr Trump after excerpts from the book were published.

On Thursday Mr Gingrich echoed Mr Trump's charge that Mr Bannon had "lost his mind".

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a longtime punching bag for Mr Bannon, revelled in the aide's break with the President. "I'd like to associate myself with what the President had to say about Steve Bannon yesterday," he said mischievously on Thursday.

The book quickly shot to the top of Amazon's bestseller list, and the publisher moved up its release date by four days to yesterday.

The new fissure in an already fractious Republican Party casts doubt on Mr Bannon's hopes of fomenting a movement centred on "Trumpism without Trump".

It has already cost him a key backer - billionaire donor and Breitbart co-owner Rebekah Mercer issued a statement distancing her family from him.

"I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected," she said.

"My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions."

Administration staff allies worked to discredit Mr Bannon as a disgruntled has-been.

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