Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon's claim that a meeting between Trump campaign officials and a group of Russians was "treasonous" focused on President Donald Trump's son and not his former campaign manager, as Mr Bannon now maintains, the author of a book containing the remark said.
- Steve Bannon said in the book that a meeting that Donald Trump Jr attended was "treasonous" and unpatriotic"
- He has since said his comment were directed at former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort
- Author Michael Wolff says the comments were indeed directed at Mr Trump's son
In the book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Mr Bannon labelled the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, which Donald Trump Jr attended, as "treasonous" and "unpatriotic".
The reference angered the President, who last week lashed out at Mr Bannon, saying he "lost his mind".
Mr Bannon sought to make amends, saying in statement his description was not aimed at Mr Trump's son but at Mr Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
But author Michael Wolff told MSNBC's Morning Joe: "It was not directed at Manafort, it was directed directly at Don Jr."
"Steve was incredibly helpful on this book, and his insights are penetrating, and I don't feel great about putting him in what seems obviously a difficult position. But he was talking about Don Jr.
"He was not talking about Paul Manafort."
Suppression efforts 'flagrantly unconstitutional'
The publisher responded by bringing the release date forward.
Elizabeth McNamara, a lawyer for Macmillan, the publisher's parent company, also fired back in a letter to Mr Trump's lawyer, Charles Harder.
"My clients do not intend to cease publication, no such retraction will occur and no apology is warranted," she said.
The book publisher said any effort by Mr Trump to suppress the book would be "flagrantly unconstitutional".
In a letter to company employees shared with The Associated Press, Macmillan chief executive John Sargent wrote "no American court" would go along with Mr Trump should he sue to have Fire and Fury withdrawn.
Bannon's comments 'repugnant, grotesque'
Trump and other White House officials have attacked Mr Bannon and the book, which they have said is riddled with lies.
The book depicts a chaotic White House led by a man who is mentally unstable and unfit for the job.
"I don't believe there's any way back for Mr Bannon at this point," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Air Force One.
"When you go after somebody's family in the manner in which he did … it is repugnant, it is grotesque."
The President's allies also attacked the book in a round of television appearances.
Chief policy adviser Stephen Miller, in a combative appearance on CNN, described the book as "nothing but a pile of trash through and through".
CIA director Mike Pompeo said Mr Trump was "completely fit" to lead the country.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said she visits the White House once a week, and "no-one questions the stability of the President".
Bannon's mea culpa
Mr Bannon is chairman of Breitbart News, and his comments caused one of his key backers, Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire GOP donor and Breitbart co-owner, to distance her family from him.
In his statement, Mr Bannon praised Trump Jr as "both a patriot and a good man".
"I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr has diverted attention from the President's historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency," Mr Bannon said in the statement, which was first obtained by the news site Axios.
Two days after the book's release, WikiLeaks tweeted a link to an electronic image of the text.
Posting the text of a book without permission would violate copyright restrictions and potentially damage sales.
Yet, hours after WikiLeaks tweeted the link, Fire and Fury remained at the top of Amazon's lists of hardcover and ebook bestsellers.