Rep. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesDemocrats press Biden to step up fight against domestic hunger McCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel Pelosi picks Democrats for special panel tackling inequality 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.
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 BannonBiden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas 'not appropriate' 'You're a joke': Greene clashes with Cheney, Raskin on House floor The 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress 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) 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 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 TrumpHow Trump uses fundraising emails to remain undisputed leader of the GOP Donald Trump Jr. joins Cameo Book claims Trump family members were 'inappropriately' close with Secret Service agents 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.