In Brief

Steve Bannon to appear before US panel for Russia probe

Ex-White House strategist reportedly called 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer ‘treasonous’

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon will appear before the House Intelligence Committee today for a voluntary, closed-door session following his dramatic break with President Donald Trump.

The Breitbart provocateur’s testimony follows the publication last week of tell-all book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, in which Bannon is quoted describing a Trump Tower campaign meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in 2016 as “treasonous”.

Russia and Trump deny colluding in the run-up to the US election. Trump responded to the allegation of treason by saying that “Sloppy Steve Bannon”  had “lost his mind”. Bannon apologised, but quit, or was forced out of, his role as executive chairman at alt-right media outlet Breitbart News days later.

Bannon hasn’t been publicly accused of any wrongdoing. The House panel asked for the voluntary interview in December, before the Fire and Fury furore erupted, according to Bloomberg. Although the letter sent to Bannon by the committee doesn’t specify the reasons for the appearance, or the questions to be asked, it is clear that the interviews are part of the Russia investigation, Bloomberg says.

Bannon was a liaison to the controversial data-analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, that was used by the Trump campaign during the election, and was a member of the administration when the president fired national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI director James Comey. Trump fired Bannon last summer, at which point he rejoined Breitbart.

“With no radio show, no billionaire patrons and no access to the president he helped get elected, Bannon has found himself adrift on an iceberg in the night,” says the National Public Radio website.

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