WH official: House panel broke ground rules for Bannon interview

18 January, 2018, 04:28 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • Donald Trump Melania Trump Barron Trump

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's former chief strategist, has become embroiled in the Russian Federation investigation, sparking anger at his refusal to answer questions in Congress, but experts warn he may find it harder to avoid offering evidence when he appears before a grand jury.

The move has been labelled a "gag order" after Mr Bannon refused to answer numerous questions on advice from his lawyer, who had relayed questions in real time to the White House during the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee interview.

"It's unclear who Burck communicated with or whether it was top White House lawyer Don McGahn", the AP writes.

Dearborn was a campaign aide who later served on the presidential transition before joining Trump in the White House as deputy chief of staff. In a rare show of bipartisanship, the committee subpoenaed Bannon on the spot.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is being questioned as part of the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, but few details of his testimony have been made public. "If the White House is permitted to maintain that kind of gag rule on a witness, no congressional investigation could ever be effective".

Bannon reportedly downplayed those comments to Wolff during the interview, calling them "hyperbole". He is expected to cooperate with the special counsel, the person said.

Bannon refused to answer questions from the House committee about his time on the Trump presidential transition team and in the White House.

"This was effectively a gag order by the White House preventing this witness from answering nearly any question concerning his time in the transition or the administration", Schiff said.

It was clear by Tuesday night that Bannon had invoked a "remarkably broad definition of executive privilege", as one congressman put it, during the interview.

"I am frustrated whenever people assert privileges that do not exist", House intelligence committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) told Fox News on Wednesday.

Schiff said there was "no appetite" among Republicans on the committee to subpoena Lewandowski as they did with Bannon, though.

The former strategist accused, 's son-in-law Jared Kushner and then- campaign chairman Paul Manafort of "treasonous" behavior for meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign who offered political "dirt" on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

President Donald Trump has a "very strong and a very probable possibility" of completing his presidency "with no medical issues", his doctor has said.

However, prosecutors may have taken a tactical decision to use a grand jury forum to subject Mr Bannon to a tougher, cross-examination style form of questioning.

News broke during the House Intelligence Committee interview that special counsel Robert Mueller had earlier subpoenaed Bannon to speak before a grand jury, and on Wednesday, CNN reported Bannon had reached an agreement to speak with Mueller's team instead of a grand jury.

Lewandowski was sacked as campaign manager on June 20, 2016, and replaced by Paul Manafort, who has been indicted on money-laundering charges by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.



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