WIRE REPORT ~~
Bannon was in Washington Tuesday (Jan. 16) to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in its ongoing investigation of Russian meddling. The closed-door meeting was expected to focus on Bannon’s time as Trump’s campaign chief.
During the 12 hour testimony, Bannon attorney Bill Burck corresponded with the White House counsel’s office asking if his client could answer the questions he was being asked. The office told Burck that Bannon should not talk about his work on Trump’s transition team and his time in the White House, according to The Associated Press.
Bannon’s deal with the special counsel follows the publishing of Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which claimed Bannon called the June 2016 meeting between senior Trump presidential campaign staff and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton “treasonous.”
In his testimony, Bannon downplayed the comments published in Wolff’s book, saying it was “hyperbole” that he described the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and members of the Trump campaign with Russians as treasonous and unpatriotic, two sources said.
Bannon, who joined the campaign after the June 2016 meeting, shed little light on the meeting with Russians, the sources said.
One reason Mueller may have issued a subpoena is that Bannon publicly changed his story when he issued a statement on the book’s contents, walking back some of what was reported, a source told CNN.
The source familiar with the process with Bannon said Mueller’s team may have been seeking to send a message that he needs to be truthful about what happened.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the White House instructed Bannon not to answer questions regarding the presidential transition and his time in the White House. Schiff said a White House attorney other than White House counsel Don McGahn reconfirmed this should continue after the committee served Bannon with a subpoena during the interview Tuesday. McGahn and Bannon share the same attorney, William Burck.
The House Intelligence Committee is not done questioning Bannon, as the panel will require him to answer their questions and their own subpoena of him stands, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said after Tuesday’s hearing.
Trump named Bannon, the former chairman of the conservative news website Breitbart News, as his campaign chief in August 2016. Bannon left the Trump administration in August 2017.
He rejoined Breitbart News after his departure, but announced last week that he would be leaving again amid criticism of his comments to “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” author Michael Wolff.