According to a new report by the New York Times, President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon was subpoenaed last week to testify before a grand jury as a part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation.
The subpoena was issued by Mueller after the new book was released by Michael Wolf, “Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” in which Bannon was quoted several times.
Tuesday morning, Bannon was questioned in a closed-door hearing by the House Intelligence Committee. However, Bannon’s lawyers told the Committee that he could not answer any questions regarding the Trump transition or his time in the White House.
Therefore, the subpoena was reportedly slapped down immediately, while he was in the hearing, in order to get him to answer questions.
Fox News reported:
In the now hours-long, ongoing interview conducted by investigators for the House Intelligence Committee, Bannon’s attorney told lawmakers that the White House directed his client not to answer questions about his time in the White House or during the transition.
A source told Fox News Bannon did not invoke any sort of legal “privilege,” including executive privilege, to support this refusal.
The source told Fox News that lawmakers grilled Bannon and his attorney over their refusal to answer. At that point, some members of the committee recommended subpoenas for Bannon, and documents related to the issues.
The New York Times reported on the subpoena:
The move marked the first time Mr. Mueller is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of Mr. Trump’s inner circle. The special counsel’s office has used subpoenas before to seek information on Mr. Trump’s associates and their possible ties to Russia or other foreign governments.
The subpoena could be a negotiating tactic. Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices about ties between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia and about the president’s conduct in office, according to the person, who would not be named discussing the case. But it was not clear why Mr. Mueller treated Mr. Bannon differently than the dozen administration officials who were interviewed in the final months of last year and were never served with a subpoena.
The subpoena is a sign that Mr. Bannon is not personally the focus of the investigation. Justice Department rules allow prosecutors to subpoena to the targets of investigations only in rare circumstances.