Published: Sat, January 20, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Special counsel subpoenas former Trump aide Bannon: NYTimes

Special counsel subpoenas former Trump aide Bannon: NYTimes

Bannon "slipped up" when he revealed the information, Axios reported, since it was part of his time as chief White House strategist, and exactly the period White House lawyers are maintaining is off limits.

Bannon made the comment while testifying before the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday, acknowledging that he stood by the sentiment of his comments reported in the Michael Wolff book 'Fire and Fury'.

President Donald Trump's White House is relying on a sweeping interpretation of executive privilege as current and former advisers parade to Capitol Hill for questioning about possible connections with Russian Federation.

Dhillon, who is a top aide to chief White House counsel Donald McGahn, was apparently the one to come up with the idea of ordering Bannon to invoke "executive privilege", telling Trump that Bannon would have legal standing to do so since some of White House discussions that he was present for could have been confidential.

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who served as Trump's spokeswoman during his presidential campaign after a tenure with his Trump Organization real estate business, is also expected to be questioned by the committee this week, according to a congressional source.

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The White House is reportedly instructing witnesses to limit their testimony, despite press secretary Sarah Sanders saying they've been and are being "fully cooperative" with the Russian Federation investigation. "This time it was something that was relayed via phone and again was following standard procedure for an instance like this and something that will likely happen again on any other number of occasions, not just within this administration but future administrations". A person familiar with that issue confirmed the interview.

Peter Carr, spokesman for the special counsel, declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

White House lawyers to date have prided themselves on their cooperation with Mueller, making documents and witnesses available upon request without asserting privileges that could slow the investigation in a protracted legal fight. Mr Dhillon has concluded that the White House has extensive executive privilege claims over Mr Bannon. And Wednesday, there were new signs other Trump associates would be less than totally forthcoming.

Mr Bannon refused to answer questions in his Congressional hearing about what he had leaked to the news media, according to Democratic committee member Adam Schiff. "It goes well beyond we anything we have seen in this investigation", Schiff added.

On Thursday, Schiff referred to Bannon in a statement: "His counsel informed our committee that he was willing to answer these questions, but that he was being directed not to by White House counsel and the president".

"Mueller is very well versed in the limits of privilege claims, and he's no afraid to go to court and determine the limits of privilege and compel testimony", he said.

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