By Max Kutner
Updated | Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s embattled former chief strategist, has agreed to an interview with the House Intelligence Committee as part of its probe into Russia’s election meddling and links to the Trump campaign, according to one source close to the committee and a second source with knowledge of the matter. The sources requested anonymity in order to discuss the closed-door matters.
Bannon has in the past week faced intense scrutiny for comments he made to author Michael Wolff for the book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. In response to Bannon’s having called a June 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians “treasonous” and “unpatriotic,” Trump said in a statement that his former colleague had “lost his mind.” Bannon has since said in a statement that he continues to support the president. But the Mercer family, the megadonors behind Trump who had also backed Bannon financially, has distanced itself from Bannon, and he had to step down from his post as executive chairman of Breitbart News Network.
The House Intelligence Committee is one of three congressional panels investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and links to the Trump campaign. The House committee had sent a letter to Bannon in late December requesting the interview, Bloomberg reported at the time. The Daily Beast first reported on Thursday that he had agreed to the interview.
Bannon has hired lawyer William “Bill” Burck to represent him before the House panel. Burck has also reportedly represented White House Counsel Don McGahn and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Russia issue. Burck is not representing Bannon in the Mueller probe. The appearance is scheduled to happen on January 16, Reuters reported after the initial publication of this article.
Given the apparent growing distance between Bannon and Trump, the president and his associates could be concerned about what Bannon will tell the House investigators. His agreeing to participate also appears to be a win for Democrats on the committee, who have in recent interviews with Newsweek claimed the Republicans on the panel were unwilling to pursue witnesses besides those associated with alleged misconduct at the Department of Justice and the FBI. Upcoming witnesses involved in that aspect of the probe include Justice Department or FBI senior employees Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr and James Baker.
This article has been updated to include the date Bannon is expected to appear before the House Intelligence Committee.