When Michael Wolff’s tell-all hit Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House hit the shelves, it was revealed former chief strategist and the guy we can basically thank for Trump being in the White House Steve Bannon contributed several juicy as heck details to the book.
In fact, they were so juicy, he ended up being asked to appear before the House Intelligence Committee and testify in a closed-door session. There are other reasons, of course, to ask Bannon to appear and testify; however, that’s the most public reason.
Specifically, Bannon provided his view on the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and others with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and how he would call it treasonous in Wolff’s book.
It was all pretty sensational.
However, when he got to Capitol Hill, he tried to play coy and hard to get with members of the committee. When being asked questions about the campaign and his time in the White House, Bannon’s lawyer announced he would not be answering any questions related to his time in the White House or the transition period. POLITICO reported:
‘According to the person familiar with the interview, 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.’
Though POLITICO notes Bannon did not cite executive privilege, it was a question many were asking.
The Washington Post reported:
‘Rep. Thomas J. Rooney of Florida, a leading Republican on the committee … said that questions about whether executive privilege applied were “sort of dominating the day” as the panel tried to interview Bannon for details of what he knew of the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russian interests.’
Executive privilege is a means for the president or those in the White House to withhold information and resist subpoenas related to the executive branch.
At issue, according to Rooney, is whether executive privilege could be applied to the period they were questioning Bannon about. Rooney remarked:
‘When does it attach … during the transition, or during the actual swearing-in? If you are part of the White House in any way, and you’re talking about things that were during the campaign but it happens to be in the White House, then what?’
With that said, the committee did not allow Bannon the privilege or any room to circumvent questioning. Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) issued a subpoena himself in the middle of the testimony.
‘Of course I authorized the subpoena. That’s how the rules work.’
Other Republican lawmakers who were not happy with Bannon’s refusal to provide information included Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC).
The White House has called the subpoena issued by the House Committee a “grandstanding move.” Bannon and his lawyer have not commented as of yet.
Bannon may think he can pull some fast ones on the House Intelligence Committee. However, it was announced Tuesday Bannon was subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III himself.
Featured image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.