National Security

House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon

The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday subpoenaed former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon after he declined to answer investigators' questions in their probe into Russian interference in the presidential election, according to multiple sources.

According to one source, Bannon did not immediately comply with the subpoenas, which were for both testimony and documents.

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) later told reporters that there was only a subpoena to compel testimony and that it remained in effect at the close of the interview. 

Bannon appeared to pique lawmakers when he tried to cite executive privilege to avoid answering some questions related to his work for President Trump.

"I certainly think that when the committee expects an executive privilege, when does that attach is the question that is sort of dominating the day. You know, at what time does it attach? During the transition or during the actual swearing in?" Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) said to reporters. He declined to comment on the issuance of the subpoenas, first reported by Fox News's Chad Pergram.

Bannon joined the Trump campaign in August of 2016, stayed on through the transition and left the White House in August of 2017. 

The move to issue a subpoena during the middle of an interview is an unusual one - and is a departure from how committee lawmakers have handled other witnesses who have declined to answer certain questions.

Trump recently had a very public break with Bannon after the publication of a controversial book in which Bannon is quoted. Trump that "Sloppy Steve" has "been dumped like a dog by almost everyone."

In the book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by author Michael Wolff, Bannon said 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 Clinton was "treasonous."

Earlier on Tuesday, The New York Times reported that special counsel Robert Mueller last week hit Bannon with a separate, grand jury subpoena in the federal investigation. The news broke publicly just hours after Bannon walked into the Intelligence Committee's secure spaces.

Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told reporters that he authorized the congressional subpoenas, saying, "That's how the rules work."

--This story was updated at 9:25 a.m.

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