Trump personally made decision to limit Bannon testimony: report

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE reportedly ordered that former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon limit his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

Trump's decision came after receiving advice from Uttam Dhillon, a deputy White House counsel, Foreign Policy reports.

Dhillon reportedly thought the administration could have legitimate executive privilege claims in the situation, sources told Foreign Policy. But Dhillon also found the administration doesn't have legitimate executive privilege claims to limit the testimony of Bannon and other officials from giving information to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE.


Foreign Policy's findings come after it was reported earlier this week that an attorney for Bannon relayed questions to the White House in real time while his client was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.

The Associated Press reported that Bannon's attorney, Bill Burck, was communicating with the White House counsel's office via phone to check on whether it would allow Bannon to answer certain questions.

During the hearing, Bannon refused to answer questions related to his tenure on the Trump transition team or in the White House. That refusal frustrated lawmakers on the committee, who issued a subpoena to compel Bannon's cooperation.

The White House on Wednesday defended itself against reports that it sought to limit the kinds of questions Bannon could answer in the interview with the Intelligence panel.

"We’re following the procedure whether it’s in this committee or any other committee down the road," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a press briefing. 

White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE said Wednesday the White House didn't tell Bannon to invoke executive privilege and refuse to answer questions in Congress's investigation into Russia's election meddling.

Reports also surfaced earlier this week that Bannon had been subpoenaed by Mueller. CNN reported Wednesday that Bannon struck a deal with Mueller's team to be interviewed by prosecutors instead of testifying before a grand jury.

Sanders said the White House expected everyone involved in the investigative process to cooperate with the special counsel. 

"We’re going to be fully cooperative with the special counsel and encourage everybody involved in the process to be fully cooperative," she said.