Published: Fri, February 16, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Bannon scheduled to testify in Russian Federation investigation

Bannon scheduled to testify in Russian Federation investigation

Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that Bannon kept mostly mum during his closed-door testimony with the committee Thursday, to the point that Congress may have no choice but "to initiate contempt proceedings" against him.

The White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill late Wednesday laying out its explanation for why Trump's transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege, a move meant to shield Bannon from answering questions about that time period, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

Schiff said the committee gave Bannon the chance, under House rules, "to provide any basis he felt for why he should not be held in contempt.and Mr. Bannon did not avail himself of that opportunity".

When Conaway was asked whether he would back such a contempt proceeding, he said the decision was not his to make. "So I think there is only one course that is open to us, and that is the course of seeking contempt".

Bannon was already under subpoena as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been critical of the White House's sweeping interpretation of executive privilege and its contention that pretty much everything is off limits until the president says it's not. The subpoena is still pending. Trump, a Republican, has denied collusion between his associates and Moscow. At issue is whether Bannon can talk about the presidential transition, his time at the White House and communications with Trump and others since he left last summer. "And we can not take that kind of stonewalling for an answer". Florida Rep. Tom Rooney said Tuesday that if Bannon didn't cooperate with the panel and they didn't hold him in contempt, that would set a bad precedent.

He voluntarily met with the same committee in January but refused to answer any questions over a 10-hour period.

Bannon visited Capitol Hill to take questions from the panel privately but would only answer 25 questions that had been pre-approved by the White House.

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But on Bannon, Republicans have joined Democrats in expressing anger over his refusal to answer questions.

He also represents White House counsel Don McGahn and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, said Bannon asserted a broad claim of executive privilege to decline questions on a wide range of matters. Schiff said, adding that the answer was no.

Bannon's attorney and White House aides did not immediately respond to requests for comment. "That is how stonewalling works", Schiff told reporters.

"The breadth of that claim of executive privilege is breathtaking and insupportable and indeed, at times, it was laughable", Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, told reporters Thursday.

Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican leading the committee's Russian Federation investigation, told CNN Tuesday evening that there appears to be an agreement between the House counsel and Bannon's side for his return testimony. Conaway said, however, that Nunes has no role in determining next steps on the Bannon matter. "But I expect him to appear". His answer to each question was "no" and he told the committee he was not authorized to elaborate, according to lawmakers of both parties.

Republicans say they're particularly at odds with Bannon's stance that executive privilege could extend to the transition period, and say they're anxious about the precedent it would set.

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