The New York Times reported this afternoon that special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Steve Bannon to testify before a grand jury regarding Russian collusion in the 2016 elections. Bannon revealed that he was subpoenaed last week during a meeting with the House Intelligence committee this morning.
Mueller has been investigating the involvement of Trump’s inner circle with Russia since last year, but this is the first reported use of a subpoena within this investigation. Insiders reportedly speculate that this is a negotiation tactic aimed at getting Bannon to agree to answer questions in a less formal setting in lieu of appearing before a grand jury, according to the Times.
Bannon, a former White House adviser, has recently fallen out with President Trump over the wide release of Fire and Fury, a shocking tell-all book by journalist Michael Wolff. According to Wolff, Bannon reported that there were “three senior guys in the campaign [who] thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower…with no lawyers,” referring to a June 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer who had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. Bannon is quoted by Wolff as saying, “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic … you should have called the FBI immediately.”*
Mueller’s Russia investigation has most significantly led to the dismissal of Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI over meetings he had with Russian officials. According to The Hill, Bannon was directly involved with the decision to fire Flynn, indicating that he has some knowledge regarding the extent of Russian involvement in the 2016 elections.
*Excerpts from Fire and Fury were taken from The Hill.