The top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee said that Steve Bannon should face contempt hearings if he continued to refuse to answer all of the committee’s questions. In a statement, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said the committee was “united on this matter.”
Schiff’s statement also accused the White House of blocking Bannon’s testimony, alleging that Bannon’s lawyer informed the committee that he would only answer “a set of fourteen yes-or-no questions the White House had pre-approved” regarding the presidential transition, Bannon’s tenure in the White House and Bannon’s conversations with President Trump after he left.
Bannon’s initial appearance in front of the House Intel Committee last month devolved into confusion when he, apparently upon instructions from the White House, declined to answer any questions covering the time after the 2016 campaign. His refusal prompted the committee to serve him a subpoena on the spot — a rare moment of bipartisanship for an investigation typically wracked with acrimony.
As they came out of a committee meeting on Monday evening, House Intel Democrats and Republicans alike said they expected Bannon to show up Tuesday morning and comply with their subpoena.
“We have all the tools that the House has to enforce subpoenas and we’ll take the steps necessary,” Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), a Republican leader of the Russia probe, said. “I expect him to be here.”
However, later that evening it was reported that Bannon would be a no-show. The interview, according to Schiff and other lawmakers, has now been rescheduled for next week.
The dance between House Intel and Bannon continues: Gowdy says the subpoena deadline has been pushed back another week as they negotiate over the scope of the questions Bannon will answer
— Jeremy Herb (@jeremyherb) February 6, 2018
Meanwhile, Bannon is also planning to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, during which he reportedly intends to answer anything Mueller asks of him.
“Testifying before the Special Counsel does not obviate Mr. Bannon’s obligations under the subpoena issued by the Committee,” Schiff said. “Should Bannon maintain his refusal to return and testify fully to all questions, the Committee should begin contempt proceedings to compel his testimony.”
Neither the White House nor Bannon’s attorney responded to TPM’s requests for comment.
Read the full Schiff statement below:
“This week, Steve Bannon’s counsel informed the Committee that the White House continues to prohibit Mr. Bannon from testifying to the Committee beyond a set of fourteen yes-or-no questions the White House had pre-approved. The White House’s bar on Bannon’s testimony covers matters during the transition, his tenure at the White House, and his communications with the President since leaving government service, even though the President has not in fact invoked executive privilege.
“This is unacceptable, and the Committee remains united on this matter – the Committee’s subpoena remains in effect and his interview has been rescheduled for next week. Testifying before the Special Counsel does not obviate Mr. Bannon’s obligations under the subpoena issued by the Committee. Should Bannon maintain his refusal to return and testify fully to all questions, the Committee should begin contempt proceedings to compel his testimony.”