According to a breaking report from the Associated Press, Steve Bannon, the former chief adviser to Donald Trump, had an interesting arrangement during his subpoenaed appearance before the House Intelligence Committee: His lawyer was in constant contact with an unnamed individual – widely presumed to be chief counsel Don McGahn – with the White House the entire time.
Every question that Bannon was asked during the closed-door session was first relayed to the White House by Bill Burck, his lawyer, via phone. Then whoever was on the other end of that communication, according to the report, would let Burck and Bannon know whether or not to even answer the question that had just been posed.
The AP reports that the questions which were rebuffed by the White House pertained not to the campaign itself, but to the transition and to Bannon’s brief tenure inside the Oval Office in the Trump administration.
The unfortunate news for Bannon is that now he will likely be compelled to be interviewed again, in addition to now being summoned by the actual special counsel investigation, where he will be interviewed by prosecutors, who, if they don’t feel the answers he provides are forthcoming, can place him before the grand jury under oath.
And indeed, the latest from the Associated Press indicates both of these scenarios are already unfolding as we speak: Bannon is being recalled by the House Intelligence Committee and also by Mueller’s prosecutors.
Reports initially treated ranking Democrat Adam Schiff’s accusations of a “gag order” by the White House on Bannon’s testimony as an unsubstantiated rumor, although it’s unclear why they might have — he was in the room, after all. Now it is widely known that Trump himself has ordered Bannon not to answer certain questions, citing a nonexistent privilege.
Now that Bannon has struck a deal with Mueller’s team in order to maintain a lower profile than a highly-publicized grand jury appearance, it may be time for Trump’s legal team to rethink their strategy of simple obstruction of justice.
I suppose it’s hard not to run the one play you’re really good at, though.
Featured image via Opposition Report Gallery