Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon testified before the House Intelligence on Tuesday regarding his time with the Trump campaign and in President Donald Trump’s White House — but his attorney was in touch with the White House during the entire closed-door session.
According to the Associated Press, Bannon’s attorney Bill Burck relayed to the White House questions the Intelligence Committee asked of Bannon throughout the 10-hour session.
Burck was reportedly communicating with the White House counsel by phone, checking whether Bannon was allowed to answer certain questions.
BREAKING: AP Sources: Steve Bannon attorney relayed questions to White House during House interview, was told when not to respond.
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 17, 2018
And while it was not revealed who Burck was communicating with, he does also represent White House counsel Don McGahn in matters related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
During the session, Bannon reportedly refused to answer questions related to his time in the Trump White House and as a member of the transition team. Ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff said that Burck had spoken with the White House after Bannon had been subpoenaed, and told Bannon not to answer the questions on those topics.
There is no legal basis in which the White House can instruct witnesses like Steve Bannon to refuse broad categories of questions before our committee. We must insist on answers.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 17, 2018
“The scope of this assertion of privilege, if that’s what it is, is breathtaking,” Schiff had said. “It goes well beyond anything we’ve seen in this investigation … This was effectively a gag order by the White House.”
CNN reported on Wednesday that Bannon had struck a deal with Mueller’s office to speak with investigators instead of appearing before the grand jury convened as part of the investigation into Trump campaign collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. FBI agents had initially visited Bannon’s home last week to deliver him a subpoena.