clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Steve Bannon says McConnell blew off Trump. McConnell’s office scoffs.

Another gossipy claim in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury gets called into question.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell... Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Jen Kirby is a senior foreign and national security reporter at Vox, where she covers global instability.

Steve Bannon claims that Mitch McConnell once blew off Donald Trump to get a haircut. McConnell’s staff says that’s ridiculous.

A new book, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, is filled with gossipy anecdotes from inside the White House, like the haircut claim, which appears in an epilogue attributed to Bannon. Bannon claims McConnell’s office declined an olive branch from the administration after a tense summer between Trump and the Senate majority leader.

McConnell’s office denies this version of events.

Don Stewart, McConnell’s deputy chief of staff said the meeting was not a “one-on-one ‘makeup’ meeting,” but instead a request for all four congressional leaders to meet. “

“No one ‘blew him off’ and in fact the meeting occurred as soon as members returned to Washington after Labor Day,” Stewart wrote in an email.

He added that no staff member “ever turned down the meeting citing a haircut. That never happened. The author didn’t bother to check either of those points and ended up getting both wrong in his book (as he did with so many others).”

Wolff’s book has come under scrutiny for nebulous sourcing and potential inaccuracies.

Bannon is also one of the key on-the-record sources for the book, and some of its most explosive details (his speculation about Donald Trump Jr.’s “treasonous” meeting with the Russians, for example) are Bannon’s words.

This McConnell detail, too, appears to come from Bannon’s musings in the epilogue about Trump’s support for Strange, who lost to Bannon-backed Roy Moore (who, of course eventually lost to Democrat Doug Jones).

According to Fire and Fury, Bannon reportedly didn’t get why Trump backed Strange, because Strange was behind in the polls, and he hadn’t demanded anything of McConnell in return. According to Bannon, Trump said he supported Strange because they were friends. “He said it like a nine-year old,” Bannon claims in the book.

The White House has blasted “Sloppy Steve” — Trump’s new nickname for his former top aide — for his participation in the book, though Bannon, at least so far, hasn’t challenged Wolff’s quotes.

Update: This post has been updated with a statement from McConnell’s office.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.