While testifying before the House intel panel early Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon refused to answer questions about his time in the White House, prompting panel members to subpoena him on the spot, according to a person familiar with the interview.
Bannon appeared before the committee as part of its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, speaking just weeks after a falling-out with Trump over comments he made in an explosive new book.
Despite being ordered to speak, Bannon continued to stonewall the panel. Ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) accused the White House of imposing a “gag order”
MORE NEWS: Top Dem on the committee, @RepAdamSchiff, says after committee subpoenaed, Bannon’s lawyer contacted the White House, which “doubled down” on demand he not answer questions.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) January 17, 2018
Citing sources familiar with the interview, Politico reported that Bannon’s attorney told the committee he wouldn’t discuss anything about his time in the White House or during the transition after the 2016 election. During that period, Trump allegedly sought a pledge of loyalty from then-FBI Director James Comey and later fired him.
The source said Republicans lawmakers — including Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and former federal prosecutor Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) — were frustrated that Bannon was not more forthcoming. Bannon did not invoke executive privilege, the source said.
The dispute inside the committee room comes as Bannon was also reportedly subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller in his criminal probe of Russian meddling. Mueller’s subpoena was the first grand jury subpoena issued against a member of Trump’s inner circle in the probe, according to The New York Times.
Bannon held a senior position in the administration when the Times revealed a June 2016 meeting organized by the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. and Kremlin-linked people. Mueller has reportedly been interested in a series of misleading statements that emerged about that meeting.
In a new book, “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff, Bannon described that meeting as “treasonous” and suggested Trump Jr., as well as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, could be in legal jeopardy.