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White House Under Fire Over 'Gag Order' Imposed on Steve Bannon

White House Under Fire Over 'Gag Order' Imposed on Steve Bannon

He added that there was "zero" chance that Trump Jr. did not introduce the lobbyists to Trump.

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's former chief strategist, has become embroiled in the Russian Federation investigation, sparking anger at his refusal to answer questions in Congress, but experts warn he may find it harder to avoid offering evidence when he appears before a grand jury. The official wouldn't say who Burck spoke with in the counsel's office or whether it was his client, McGahn.

Bannon was quizzed behind closed doors by the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, the first time he has testified in the probe investigating whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation in its bid to influence the 2016 USA elections.

Bannon did not comment substantively Tuesday evening as he left Capitol Hill. White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who has said he expects Mueller to wrap up his investigation related to the president shortly, declined to comment.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon refused to tell the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday about his time at the White House, with the exception of one major "slip-up", the website Axios reported.

"I'm not sure how you do that, but he did it", Gowdy said.

Ric Simmons, Professor for the Administration of Justice and Rule of Law at the Ohio State University, said Mr Mueller had done a good job preventing leaks and hiding his strategy so far. But Mueller may still leave open the option for an interview in lieu of grand jury testimony.

The subpoena is a sign that Bannon is not personally the focus of the investigation. He arrived with no documents, saying that if lawmakers wanted emails and other communications, they were likely to be available from other witnesses.

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

On Tuesday, when Bannon appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, he told lawmakers in the closed-door meetings that President Trump had invoked executive privilege and thus he could not disclose details about his time working on the Trump transition team nor in the White House.

"But here was an entire time period that was essentially made off-limits by the White House", the California Democrat continued.

On Fox News, he said Bannon was trying to assert a privilege that does not exist. He was the latest high-profile figure to appear before the panel as part of its investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the USA election. Conaway had decided that the White House's "expansive claim of executive privilege doesn't apply", Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., told CNN's Anderson Cooper - and the former chief strategist risked placing himself in contempt of Congress through his stonewalling. "So this obviously can't stand", Schiff told reporters after the interview.

In essence, the White House is hoping to reap numerous benefits of executive privilege, without President Donald Trump officially asserting the privilege. "It's not Mr. Bannon's right to waive it". Bannon's refusal to answer committee questions followed a subpoena issued by chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) in the middle of Bannon's testimony. Dismissed from the White House in August, he saw his position as the president's self-described "wingman" unravel in the past two weeks, as his unflattering comments about both Donald Trump and his family made worldwide headlines with the publication of Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury, a look into the West Wing that would have been impossible without Bannon's apparent candor.

Bannon was in the White House during a stretch of Trump's presidency that included Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey, which is now of interest in a criminal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who's examining whether Russians had any help from Trump associates in their interference in the 2016 election - and whether the president or allies obstructed the FBI's investigation in the matter. That subpoena will remain in effect when Bannon comes back before the committee for more questioning, members said.


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