Tuesday was a busy day for Steve Bannon.
The former top strategist to Donald Trump sat down with the House Intelligence Committee as part of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
But he refused to talk, resulting in panel members issuing an immediate subpoena.
According to a source familiar with the committee interview, Bannon’s attorney advised the committee Bannon refuses to disclose any information about his time in the White House or during the transition after the election, frustrating Republican lawmakers that included Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC).
A source reported to the New York Times it’s possible Mueller’s subpoena “could be a negotiating tactic” designed to convince Bannon to privately meet with Mueller’s legal team instead of a grand jury.
The subpoena comes after Bannon confessed controversial details about Trump and campaign officials for Michael Wolff’s explosive new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, released last week to enormous acclaim and criticism.
Among other things, Bannon is quoted in the book as describing “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Russians who promised damning information about Hillary Clinton.
Bannon also said he assumed Trump Jr. delivered information about the meeting to his father, despite denials, and downplayed possible illegal coordination with Russia, admitting there was concern Mueller’s investigation could eventually expose other wrongdoing, such as money laundering.
A source close to Bannon provided a statement about Bannon’s subsequent regret over his response’s timing.
He also apparently now regards Trump Jr. as a “patriot.”
The walls are closing in around Trump.
In December, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors that presents the most direct threat to the president.
A few weeks before that, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates turned themselves in to the FBI, and were charged with 12 counts of conspiracy to launder money, lying to the FBI, and other charges in connection with their work advising a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party.
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