Senate panel seeks interview with Steve Bannon, lawyer says

Senate panel seeks interview with Steve Bannon, lawyer says
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A lawyer for Stephen Bannon said Wednesday that the Senate Intelligence Committee is interested in interviewing the former White House and Trump campaign aide as part of the panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the election. 

The disclosure came in response to a report from Reuters that the committee is investigating the activities of Bannon before the 2016 election, including his knowledge of contacts between other campaign officials and Moscow.

William Burck, Bannon’s lawyer, told The Hill that the committee is interested in interviewing him as a witness in their ongoing investigation but has never suggested him to be a target of the probe. 

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“The Senate Intelligence Committee has expressed an interest in interviewing Mr. Bannon as a witness, just as they have many other people involved in the Trump campaign,” Burck said in an email. “But the committee has never suggested that he’s under investigation himself.” 

Reuters reported Wednesday that the committee, which has been investigating Russian election interference for nearly two years, is interested in Bannon's knowledge about contacts between Russians and campaign advisers Carter Page and George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosNew FBI document confirms the Trump campaign was investigated without justification Republicans plow ahead with Russia origins probe AG Barr just signaled that things are about to get ugly for the Russia collusion team MORE.

The committee is also said to be probing Bannon’s relationship to Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm that contracted with the campaign. Cambridge came under fierce scrutiny earlier this year for improperly harvesting and storing data on millions of Facebook users in 2014.

A spokesperson for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrBiden campaign adds staff in three battleground states Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE (R-N.C.) declined to comment. A spokesperson for Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown MORE (D-Va.), the committee’s top Democrat, also declined to comment Wednesday.

The committee’s interest in an interview with Bannon indicates a shift from January, when Burr told CNN that he saw no reason for the committee to interview Bannon, which was a break with Warner. 

Bannon interviewed with the House Intelligence Committee in February as part of its now-defunct probe into Russian interference. A transcript of his House interviews are poised to become public any day now, after the committee voted to release transcripts of 53 interviews conducted as part of the investigation in September.

Bannon also reportedly sat for interviews with 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, who is spearheading the federal investigation into Russian interference and collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Bannon was questioned on Friday about longtime Trump ally Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneRoger Stone asks court to delay prison sentence over coronavirus concerns Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers to address alarming spike in coronavirus cases Judge gives Stone an extra 14 days to report to prison MORE and his connections to WikiLeaks. 

Bannon served as chief executive officer of the Trump campaign and went on to become White House chief strategist before being ousted in August 2017.

Page and Papadopoulos served as foreign policy advisers on the campaign. They both have come under scrutiny for their contacts with Russians during the campaign.

Last October, Mueller revealed that Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to one count of lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russia-linked individuals during his brief tenure as a foreign policy adviser on the campaign. 

According to court filings, Papadopoulos was told by a London professor in 2016 that the Russians had “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSusan Collins signals she won't campaign against Biden Cuccinelli says rule forcing international students to return home will 'encourage schools to reopen' Clinton labels ICE decision on international students 'cruel' and 'unnecessary' MORE in the form of “thousands of emails” – a detail communicated to him before WikiLeaks began releasing troves of hacked Democratic emails that became a trigger for the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference.

Papadopoulos also tried unsuccessfully to broker a meeting between the campaign and Russian government officials. He has said he broached the idea in conversations with other members of the campaign.

Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in prison in September. He is said to be seeking an immunity deal in exchange for testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Separately, Page, who also served as a foreign policy adviser to the campaign, has come under scrutiny for a July 2016 trip during which he met with a Russian official. A redacted application for a government wiretap on Page released by the Justice Department in July showed that FBI officials believed Page to be “the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.”

According to Reuters, the Senate Intelligence Committee is interested in Bannon’s knowledge of the two aides' interactions with Russia, as well as his links to Cambridge Analytica. Bannon at one point served on Cambridge’s board. The Daily Beast reported last year that the firm’s then-CEO Alexander Nix told a thirty party he had reached out to WikiLeaks about Clinton’s emails during the 2016 presidential race. Nix has since stepped down and Cambridge has shuttered its U.S. offices.