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Mueller has subpoenaed Bannon in Russia probe: report

Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon was subpoenaed last week by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE as part of the federal probe into Russian interference in the presidential election, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Bannon, who joined the Trump campaign in August of 2016 and left the White House almost exactly a year later, is one of the few known instances that Mueller has used a subpoena to compel information from a member of President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE’s inner circle.

Mueller previously obtained subpoenas targeting former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortFormer FBI agent sentenced to 4 years in jail for leaking to reporter The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan Mueller assembles team of cooperators in Russian probe MORE, who has since been charged with a slate of federal crimes, including money laundering.

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Mueller interviewed dozens of Trump associates in the closing months of the year, but those individuals were not served with a subpoena, according to the Times.

It was not immediately clear why Bannon was treated differently. One source who would not be identified told the Times that Mueller would likely allow Bannon to forego the grand jury appearance and instead be interviewed by investigators in a less formal setting — suggesting that the move could be a negotiating tactic.

The revelation came as Bannon was appearing behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee to testify in that committee’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He reportedly recently retained Bill Burck, of the law firm Quinn Emanuel.

The Mueller subpoena was handed down as Bannon has been in the spotlight over comments he made to Michael Wolff, the author of a controversial new book about the Trump White House.

The former official told Wolff that a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer believed to have political dirt on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWatchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US Republicans cancel airtime in swing Vegas district The Democratic Donald Trump is coming MORE was “treasonous.”

"The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor—with no lawyers," Bannon said, according to Wolff’s account. “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic ... you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Further, Bannon added, “the chance that [Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpElection Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B Eric Trump: Trump Org has 'zero investments' in Russia or Saudi Arabia West Virginia sports stars back Manchin in new ad MORE] did not walk these jumos up to his father's office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.”

Lawmakers were expected to press Bannon on what the president knew about that meeting, long a flashpoint in the controversy surrounding the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, as well as any financial crimes that may have been committed.

“Specifically what's the basis for his assertion that the president met with the participants in the Trump Tower meeting,” the committee’s top Democrat, Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP targets likely Dem committee chairmen in midterm push GOP Rep to top-ranking Dem who accused him of bigotry: 'Apologize to my children' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump travels to hurricane-ravaged Florida, Georgia MORE (Calif.), told ABC News's Pierre Thomas. “What [Bannon] knows about the president’s knowledge of that meeting, as well as his concerns over money laundering which has been a persistent concern of ours as well.”

But Bannon has limited first-hand knowledge into a number of key issues believed to be focal points of the Mueller investigation, including the Trump Tower meeting and the dismissal of FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFormer FBI lawyer speaks with House lawmakers on Rosenstein, 2016 Emmet Flood steps in as White House counsel following McGahn departure McGahn departs as White House counsel MORE.

He was, however, reportedly involved in the decision-making behind firing former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has since pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators as part of the Mueller probe. Flynn was dismissed less than a month into the Trump administration after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Pence on the nature of a phone call with the Russian ambassador.

The president broke publicly with Bannon after the publication of Wolff’s book, tweeting that “Sloppy Steve” has “been dumped like a dog by almost everyone.”

Updated at 12:17 p.m.