House Intel Dem: Bannon asserted ‘very novel’ definition of executive privilege during testimony

Rep. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesSEC's Clayton demurs on firing of Manhattan US attorney he would replace Democrats face tough questions with Bolton Democrats debate how and when to get House back in action MORE (D-Conn.) said Tuesday night former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon used a “remarkably broad definition of executive privilege" to avoid answering House Intelligence Committee questions about his time in the Trump administration.

“So while we were able to ask and answer a lot of different kinds of questions, there were an awful lot of questions we weren’t able to answer based on this very novel theory of executive privilege,” Himes said on CNN. 

Bannon’s attorney conferred with the White House during his client’s testimony on Tuesday, and the White House indicated that any communications while Bannon was in the Trump administration or part of the Trump transition were off limits, Himes said.

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Himes said he was not familiar with an individual using executive privilege as it relates to conversations with the president-elect, or conversations that don’t involve the president.

The White House order not to speak essentially amounted to a gag order, Himes argued.

“This raises some very serious issues about whether we’ll get straight answers from anybody who is or was associated with the administration or is or was associated with the transition,” Himes said.

Himes confirmed that Bannon was subpoenaed during his more than 10 hour hearing to compel him to answer questions. However, Himes said, Bannon still asserted executive privilege.

Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonMueller investigation witness George Nader sentenced to a decade in prison in child sex case Biden would fire Trump appointee leading US media agency for 'hijacking' outlet In DACA ruling, Supreme Court ignores Trump's racial bias MORE, if he continues to say 'I won’t answer those questions,' puts himself at risk of being charged with contempt of Congress,” Himes said. 

The New York Times reported earlier Tuesday that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE subpoenaed Bannon as part of his ongoing criminal investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Himes noted that there were multiple copies of the book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” in the room during Bannon’s testimony.

Bannon was quoted extensively in the book criticizing Trump and calling Donald Trump Jr.Don John TrumpSouth Dakota governor flew with Trump on Air Force One after being exposed to coronavirus: report Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle Trump Jr. knocks CNN's Chris Cuomo over interview with father: 'I'm not pretending to be a journalist' MORE’s 2016 meeting with Russian officials “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”

The comments led to a falling out with Trump, who tore into Bannon as someone who inflated his role in the campaign and “lost his mind” when he left the White House last August.