Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon sat before the House Intelligence Committee and let the White House (that had just labeled him “Sloppy Steve” the week before) to dictate what he answered, how he answered, and when he answered.
It was a scenario that riled the lawmakers who sat on the committee, as it became clear Bannon would be of no use to them, as long as the White House was pulling his strings.
According to ForeignPolicy.com, it was Trump, himself, who stepped in to stop Bannon from speaking freely.
Trump acted to limit Bannon’s testimony based on legal advice provided by Uttam Dhillon, a deputy White House counsel, who concluded that the administration might have legitimate executive privilege claims to restrict testimony by Bannon and other current and former aides to the president, according to these same sources.
Great advice, Dhillon. Did you advise him that restricting his testimony to House Intel didn’t block Bannon from speaking to special counsel Robert Mueller. No chance for executive privilege there.
Dhillon’s advice might prove to be a “Pyrrhic victory,” one senior administration official told Foreign Policy.
While the president might be able to “poke the Congress in the eye,” the same legal rationale undercuts any effort to restrict the special counsel’s right to interview current or former Trump aides, the official said.
And everybody knows that Robert Mueller is running the big show, right now.
Reports are that Bannon and his attorney took multiple breaks to call the White House counsel’s office, in order to take direction on which questions to answer and which ones to refuse.
During the proceedings, Bannon was served a federal grand jury subpoena to be interviewed by Mueller. Bannon agreed to voluntarily sit for questioning by the FBI and prosecutors working with special counsel, avoiding the need to sit before a grand jury.
Bannon has also said he would answer anything Mueller asked of him.
“We encourage the committees to work with us to find the appropriate accommodation in order to ensure Congress obtains all the information that they’re looking for,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Yes. She actually said that after the White House pulled some cockamamie “executive privilege” stunt to keep Steve Bannon from talking to them.
Since Bannon didn’t answer questions from House Intel, they also served him with several subpoenas, for appearance and testimony.
It sounds like Bannon has a full calendar ahead.
I wonder if he holds a grudge?