Panel mulls contempt if Bannon skips Thursday hearing: report

Panel mulls contempt if Bannon skips Thursday hearing: report
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Lawmakers from both parties on the House Intelligence Committee have indicated former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon should be held in contempt of Congress if he fails to appear for a scheduled interview Thursday, CNN reported.

Democrats had previously floated the option of holding Bannon in contempt, but Republicans now appear to support taking that step as well, CNN reported.

The committee subpoenaed Bannon in January after he declined to answer questions related to the Trump transition and his work in the White House.

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However, Bannon still declined to answer lawmakers’ questions in their probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, citing executive privilege. A follow-up interview has since been rescheduled three times, but lawmakers are hopeful he will appear for questioning on Thursday.

Late Wednesday night, the White House sent the committee a letter arguing that Trump's transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to The Hill Thursday morning. CNN first reported the claims described in the letter. 

The argument is a White House strategy aimed at protecting Bannon from talking about the transition, the source told the news outlet.

The committee could enforce the subpoena by voting to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress.

“If you don’t [enforce the subpoena], what kind of precedent is that sending? For not just our committee, but every committee,” Rep. Tom RooneyThomas (Tom) Joseph RooneyProtecting families of fallen service members from another government shutdown Republicans top Dems at charity golf game Ryan remarks on Trump ‘spygate’ leave conservatives fuming MORE (R-Fla.) said.

The bipartisan concern over Bannon's refusal to testify has been a rare show of unity on a committee struck by partisanship recently.

Tensions between Republicans and Democrats have reportedly become so hostile that GOP members of the committee have discussed building a literal wall separating the two parties’ staffers.