Former Trump advisor and chief White House White Nationalist Steve Bannon was subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee this week and spent 10 hours in an interview session with them, all the while refusing to answer any questions about his time in the White House, with one small exception that Axios is calling a “slip up.”
As unbelievably unethical (and illegal? How is this not illegal?) as this sounds, one of Bannon’s lawyers was texting the questions to the White House to find out what Bannon should and should not answer.
Bannon was directed to not answer any questions about his time in Trump’s inner circle, but according to four sources Axios claims have direct knowledge of the interview, he slipped up and answered a question about speaking with other White House staffers (Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and legal spokesman Mark Corallo) about that infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner with a Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.
CNN’s Jim Sciutto explains this meeting is of interest for two reasons to Special Counsel Mueller:
1) The fact that it took place at all, Russians offering damaging information – the closest information we have so far to something that could amount to collusion or cooperation.
2) The attempt by the White House – with the president participating – to explain this away in misleading fashion, saying that it was about adoptions, not about damaging information on Hillary Clinton, a story the president was apparently involved in and a story that was immediately belied by emails we saw, first reported by the New York Times.
Why it matters: The meeting — and the subsequent drafting of a misleading statement on Air Force One — has become one of the most important focal points of the Russia investigations, both on Capitol Hill and within Robert Mueller’s team, because it provides the closest thing that exists to evidence that the Trump campaign was willing to entertain collusion with Russians. (source)
News broke during the interview that Bannon has also been summoned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to speak about his time in Trump’s campaign/staff. Mueller is much more of a badass than Trey Gowdy, so Bannon will have a hard time stonewalling him.