Former White House strategist Steve Bannon leaves a House Intelligence Committee meeting where he was interviewed behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
This could be good news for the Trump team.
It could be bad news.
Whatever the case, when former White House chief strategist walked into the secure space to answer questions for the House Intelligence Committee, he was as pugnacious and nasty as those who have worked with him described him to be.
From The Hill:
Multiple sources told The Hill that Bannon indicated to lawmakers that he would answer questions about the Trump campaign, but not about his work on the transition team or in the White House. Bannon, alongside his lawyer, said he would only answer those questions when he speaks to Mueller.
That stance infuriated lawmakers. Sources described the meeting as a “total free-for-all” and “brutal.”
“He doesn’t have any friends in that room,” one source said.
And now the exiled former Breitbart guru has several subpoenas to deal with.
Because he was being a butt about answering the questions of House Intel, they hit him with several subpoenas – for documents and testimony.
News also dropped earlier Tuesday that he’d been served with a grand jury subpoena to speak to Robert Mueller’s team.
The subpoenas come following a breakdown in the relationship between Bannon and President Trump, spurred by comments made to author Michael Wolff for a controversial new book about the White House. Trump tweeted that “Sloppy Steve” has “been dumped like a dog by almost everyone.”
The grand jury subpoena is one of the few known instances of Mueller using a subpoena to compel information from a member of Trump’s inner circle.
One source who would not be identified told the Times that Mueller would likely allow Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance and instead be interviewed by investigators in a less formal setting — suggesting that the subpoena could be a negotiating tactic.
He may not need that much coaxing. When Trump got news of the book, he and all his minions turned on Bannon and treated him worse than garbage. He’s lost everything he struggled so hard for, all the leverage and all the authority. How mad is he?
There were some reports that the White House had contacted Bannon and told him not to testify. If that’s true, then maybe they do still hold influence over his actions.
Florida Rep. Tom Rooney suggested Bannon’s attempts to use “executive privilege” may have complicated the proceedings.
“I certainly think that when the committee expects an executive privilege, when does that attach is the question that is sort of dominating the day. You know, at what time does it attach? During the transition or during the actual swearing in?” Rooney said.
“If you are part of the White House in any way and you’re talking about things that were during the campaign, but it happens to be in the White House, then what? What’s the answer? So that’s the quandary.”
But isn’t he a private citizen now?
Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) confirmed to reporters that he authorized the congressional subpoenas, saying, “That’s how the rules work.”
According to multiple sources, Bannon did not immediately comply with the subpoenas, which were for both testimony and documents. The interview was still ongoing as of early Tuesday evening.
The White House in a statement said it is “fully cooperative” with the ongoing investigation without addressing directly whether it had instructed Bannon not to answer certain questions.
When Mueller gets ahold of him, the belief is that he’ll focus more on those things Bannon was allegedly involved in, such as the firings of Mike Flynn and FBI Director James Comey.
It should make for some excellent news fodder.