Published: Thu, January 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Bannon avoids questions in Russian Federation probe, maintains loyalty to Trump

Bannon avoids questions in Russian Federation probe, maintains loyalty to Trump

Former Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon Tuesday refused to answer questions from a congressional committee probing the president's campaign links to Russian Federation, saying he was under orders from the White House not to.

The subpoena compels Bannon to testify before a grand jury, skipping the voluntary interview with Mueller's team that many in Trump's orbit have elected to take.

Steve Bannon will cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe, according to reports that surfaced on Wednesday morning.

Mr Bannon, who was recently disavowed by President Donald Trump, will discuss his time with the Trump campaign and White House directly with the investigators, and will bypass questioning in front of a grand jury.

Bannon's attorney told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that Bannon would answer questions when he goes to the special counsel because executive privilege would not apply, according to one of the sources.

The congressman in charge of the investigation in that committee, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, issued a subpoena against Bannon, one that was signed then and there by committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

Lawmakers in both parties attributed Bannon's silence to the White House, which they said told him to refuse to discuss his time in the West Wing or on Trump's transition team.

Schiff said Bannon refused to answer questions on the grounds that President Trump might invoke executive privilege in the future.

"He can say whatever the hell he wants to say to him about whatever topic that he wants", a source familiar with Bannon's thinking told Axios.

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Schiff told MSNBC later that Bannon had refused to answer questions about conversations held both during his time at the White House and during the transition between the election and Trump's inauguration.

"We've been cooperating fully with these ongoing investigations and encourage the committees to work with us to find an appropriate accommodation in order to ensure Congress obtains information necessary to its legitimate interests", she said.

Before Lewandowski left the campaign, he was among among several senior Trump campaign officials who received communications from foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos about his outreach to the Russian government, according to published news accounts.

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.

Bannon recently lost his job at the helm of the Trump-friendly Breitbart in part because of his recent comments about Trump and Russian Federation.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated earlier on Tuesday that Congress must consult with the Trump administration before "obtaining confidential material" about inquiries into the White House.

The subpoena remains in effect, meaning ex-Breitbart boss Bannon could be called back to testify under oath.

The focus on Bannon follows his spectacular fall from power after being quoted in a book saying that he sees the president's son and others as engaging in "treasonous" behavior for taking a meeting with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

It is unlikely the committee will face the same White House objections with Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who is also being interviewed Wednesday.

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