By Steve Neavling
Taking cues from the White House, President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon repeatedly defied a subpoena Tuesday ordering him to respond to a congressional committee’s questions about possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Bannon refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee about the presidential transition team or his time in the administration. The decision was advised by his attorney, who conferred during the day with the White House, which strongly discouraged cooperation with lawmakers.
The defiance and apparent collaboration with the Trump team shocked and enraged many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, of California, harshly criticized what he called a “gag order by the White House” designed to disrupt the investigation.
“This was the first time that we saw a witness refuse to answer questions on the instruction of the White House or on the claim that the White House might later invoke privilege in which [the majority was] not only unwilling to accept that answer but willing to act with great alacrity to subpoena that witness in real time and insist that he come back,” Schiff said.
Bannon also was issued a subpoena to testify before a grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the chances of his rival Hillary Clinton.
The special counsel investigation has so far netted indictments against four former members of Trump’s inner circle during the 2016 presidential election.