Bannon Given More Time to Sort Out with White House

  • Bannon Given More Time to Sort Out with White House

Bannon Given More Time to Sort Out with White House

The White House's contention: Pretty much everything is off limits until the president says it's not.

The surprise move came after Steve Bannon refused to answer scores of questions about topics during the transition and his time as President Donald Trump's chief strategist, with Bannon's attorney saying he had been instructed by the White House not to answer those questions over concerns that it could breach executive privilege.

Bannon's "executive privilege" argument kept matters under wraps on Tuesday, but Dhillon himself has previously concluded that current and former White House officials would not have legal standing to employ the same defense during testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller. Lawmakers will be closely watching another interview later this week to see how the White House responds. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the closed-door matters.

Since Bannon's unceremonious exit from the White House last fall, Washington insiders have speculated that he could be one of the people in Trump's inner circle sitting on some of the most damaging information.

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who served as Trump's spokeswoman during his presidential campaign after a tenure with his Trump Organization real estate business, is also expected to be questioned by the committee this week, according to a congressional source.

Spokesmen for the committee's chairman, Representative Devin Nunes and top Democrat, Representative Adam Schiff, declined comment.

The House panel had previously expressed frustration about the involvement of the White House in its interview with Bannon, resulting in the committee's issuing a subpoena compelling him to answer more questions.

The Hicks interview would have capped a busy week for the House panel, following interviews with Bannon, Lewandowski and Rick Dearborn, the White House deputy chief of staff. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has also requested an interview from Hicks as part of that panel's Russian Federation probe. Bannon has worked out an arrangement to testify privately in Mueller's office in lieu of in front of the grand jury.