According to a breaking report from The New York Times this Tuesday, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was subpoenaed this week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to answer question in the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The move marks one of the few times a member of President Trump’s inner circle has been issued a subpoena.
As the Times points out, Mueller interviewed dozens of Trump associates last year but none of those interviewed were served with a subpoena except for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who pleaded not guilty to charges that he laundered millions of dollars through overseas shell companies.
From the Times:
The subpoena could be a negotiating tactic. Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices about ties between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia and about the president’s conduct in office, according to the person, who would not be named discussing the case. But it was not clear why Mr. Mueller treated Mr. Bannon differently than the dozen administration officials who were interviewed in the final months of last year and were never served with a subpoena.
This Tuesday, Bannon testified behind closed doors in front of the House Intelligence Committee regarding possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mueller’s subpoena is likely related to quotes Bannon provided to author and journalist Michael Wolff for the book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor—with no lawyers,” Bannon says according to the book. “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic… you should have called the FBI immediately.”
“…the chance that [Donald Trump Jr.] did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero,” Bannon added.
Some legal experts said the subpoena could be a sign that the investigation was intensifying, while others said it may simply have been a negotiating tactic to persuade Mr. Bannon to cooperate with the investigation. The experts also said it could be a signal to Mr. Bannon, who has tried to publicly patch up his falling-out with the president, that despite Mr. Trump’s legal threats, Mr. Bannon must be completely forthcoming with investigators.
Read the Times’ full report here.
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