Dem Accuses White House of 'Gag Order' on Bannon

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon has received a grand jury subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into Russian election interference and possible ties to President Donald Trump's campaign.

Bannon also was issued a subpoena to testify before a grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation to undermine the chances of his rival Hillary Clinton.

However, the paper says that the subpoena from Mueller may be a "negotiating tactic", and that Mueller may be willing to allow Bannon to be questioned by investigators in a more informal setting.

Steve Bannon's attorney relayed questions, in real time, to the White House during a House Intelligence Committee interview of the former Trump chief strategist.

After initially avoiding questions from lawmakers in the House Intelligence Committee on the ongoing Russian Federation probe, Steve Bannon has struck a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.

A White House official said the White House did not seek to exert executive privilege over Bannon - a move that would have barred him from answering certain questions - because they didn't have to.

A White House official said the White House counsel's office had a conversation last week with committee counsel about Mr Bannon's testimony and was told the questions were expected to be about the election campaign.

Even so, Bannon still refused to answer questions during his 11 hours on the Hill.

Mr Bannon was sacked by the White House in August and returned to the right-wing news website Breitbart News.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF, the top Democrat on the committee.

Trump responded to Bannon's quotes in a blistering statement that said: "When he (Bannon) was sacked, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind".

Bannon's attorney consulted with the White House after the panel issued the subpoena, but "the White House effectively doubled down on the gag rule", Schiff said.

Neither Bannon nor his lawyer immediately responded to a request for comment Monday.

"We're going to get answers from Mr. Bannon", said Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, the committee's top Republican.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted "no one" had discouraged Bannon from transparency. But it was not clear why Mueller treated Bannon differently than the dozen administration officials who were interviewed in the final months of previous year and were never served with a subpoena. "If he's got facts on [money laundering], I or a special prosecutor ought to hear them", Warner told me in an interview earlier this month.

Mr Bannon, a champion of the President's "America First" agenda, was among Mr Trump's closest aides during the 2016 campaign, the presidential transition and his first few months in office.

In the book by journalist Michael Wolff, Bannon criticized Trump for his firing of FBI Director James Comey and said it was "treasonous" of Trump's son Donald Trump Jr.to accept a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer who he thought would provide damaging information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

The decision by Republicans and Democrats to subpoena Bannon represented unusual bipartisan pushback for a committee that has recently been mired in partisan discord.


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