In Brief

Steve Bannon subpoenaed by special counsel

Former Trump aide also subpoenaed to answer Intelligence Committee questions

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has reportedly been issued with a subpoena by special counsel Robert Mueller to appear before a grand jury.

The New York Times reports that the subpoena was issued last week, and is “the first time Mueller is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of Trump’s inner circle.”

However, the paper says that the subpoena from Mueller may be a “negotiating tactic”, and that Mueller may be willing to allow Bannon to be questioned by investigators in a more informal setting.

The subpoena is also a sign that Bannon is “not personally the focus of the inquiry”, as Justice Department rules prohibit prosecutors from issuing subpoenas to the target of investigations except in rare circumstances.

Revelation of the special counsel subpoena came on the same day Bannon was issued a separate subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own probe into alleged links between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Bannon reportedly refused to answer a range of questions during a “combative closed-door interview” with the committee, “frustrating members of both parties,” the Washington Post says.

Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, told media that Bannon’s lawyer said the former White House aide “was willing to answer our questions but under instructions from the White House not to.”

“This was the first time we saw a witness refuse to answer the questions under the instructions of the White House or claim that the White House might later invoke privilege,” Schiff said.

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