Bannon Refuses To Answer Questions Before Congress — Faces Subpoenas and Potential Contempt Sanctions [UPDATED]

Screen_Shot_2016-08-18_at_9.57.02_AMSteve Bannon is now under subpoena by both House investigators and the Special Counsel after he refused to answer questions before Congress. Following a problematic pattern of current and former Administration figures, Bannon reportedly did not invoke executive privilege (which must be asserted by the White House) but refused to answer questions about his work on the transition team and White House.  There is no basis for such a broad assertion of executive privilege and, unless Bannon changes course, he could be looking at contempt sanctions down the road.  Despite his refusal to cooperate with the committee, he has reached a deal to speak with the Special Counsel investigators outside of a grand jury.

Update: The White House is now asserting that there were prior discussions with the Committee and the Committee violated the agreement on scope.  Notably however the agreement was to discuss only matters from the campaign and not the transition or White House periods. That would be an astonishingly limited scope for the Committee staff to agree to given the material events after the campaign, including the time periods covered by statements made by Bannon in the Wolff book.

Reports indicate that the appearance of Bannon before House Intelligence Committee became heated and chaotic as Bannon refused to speak about his transition or White House service.  This could be a play by his counsel for some form of immunity or a deal narrowing the questions.  However, reports indicate that the White House may have gagged Bannon.

The use of executive privilege over conversations with a president-elect is very hard to maintain.  Trump was not the chief executive until he took the oath of office.

Whatever the cause, it is a dangerous game for both Bannon and the White House.  There is no direct case support for an assertion over transition work being privileged. Moreover, he will have to cooperate with Mueller on such questions.  Reports indicate that Mueller’s people unsuccessfully tried to serve Bannon with a subpoena but learned that he had retained counsel (and proceeded to serve his counsel).


According to news reports, Bannon told lawmakers he was willing to answer questions about his time in the White House but the Trump administration had instructed him not to answer such questions.  Moreover, his attorney William Burck reportedly conferred with White House officials and the White House maintained the position that he should not answer questions.

The White House would lose such a fight and cannot bar all such questions.  It would also create the worst possible optics as the President is seen as barring the investigation into these allegations.  This is why such questions have historically been addressed in advance to avoid such messy confrontations.  With both houses in the control of the GOP, the White House counsel should have been able work out a reasonable scope of questions.  Instead, we are once again at an unnecessary impasse.

The White House indicated that the failure was with the committee staff.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “As with all congressional inquiries touching upon the White House, Congress must consult with the White House prior to obtaining confidential material.”  Once again, with GOP control of the committee, it is a mystery why the staff would not have consulted with the White House in advance.

What is particularly curious is that Burck reportedly told the Committee that Bannon would refuse to answer the questions of the Committee but would answer the same questions by Mueller — on the basis for executive privilege. Putting aside the dubious scope of privilege assertion, it is not clear why (since the information will be disclosed to Mueller) the White House did not take the high road and just waive any privilege assertions. In that way, the testimony is not binding precedent while the White House conveys a position of total transparency.


96 thoughts on “Bannon Refuses To Answer Questions Before Congress — Faces Subpoenas and Potential Contempt Sanctions [UPDATED]”

  1. Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind and commented:
    The Trump circus rolls on. It seems as if some in the White House are either desperate or determined to stoke the flames,with deliberately provocative acts.

          1. Turley said, “According to news reports [“?”] . . . his [Bannon’s] attorney William Burck reportedly conferred with White House officials [“?”] and the White House maintained the position that he [Bannon] should not answer questions.”

            What White House officials? Unknown. What act of provocation? “[T]he White House maintained the position that he [Bannon] should not answer questions.” Provoking what? A subpoena from [as well as the anger of] The House Intelligence Committee. Or, if Bannon holds the line, a contempt citation.

            1. L4D:

              ” if some in the White House ”


              Which word stumps you? Do you think Bannon is still in the WH? Do you see little pink elephants flying about?

              1. Mespo,…
                I think the problem stems from the published news accounts that quoted “sources familiar with the meeting”.
                There seems to be an assumption that JT should know who those sources are
                and needs to let us in on it.
                So I see two issues involved here….#1. The unprecendented use of unnamed sources in news reports😧, and B. an assumption that JT has the time to answer every silly-ass question posed by those who comment here.

  2. ‘CONTEMPT SANCTIONS?’ Was former AG Erik Holder not the first AG to be held in CONTEMPT by Congress? So what? Was Holder fined, punished or admonished? Or, was he not, likely, applauded by former president Obama? Did Obama not engage in a plethora of executive orders designed to circumvent the Constitution? Was Obamas DOJ & FBI not politicized & packed with partisan surrogates? Did such duplicitous, political, behavior ruin Obama’s “optics?” Did Obama not “gag” leaders in most of his agencies? Was Obama & his inner circle not immovable & intractable? Is Special Prosecutor Mueller not exceeding his authority? Thus, the question. Why should Bannon “cooperate with Mueller/” Moreover, what does “cooperate with Mueller” really mean? In short, seems like more progressive, synchronous, attempts to entrap a political opponent!

    1. Gary: Just as Fox News wants, you have perfected the Kellyanne Pivot. Congratulations! Anytime the Fat Dotard or his administration is caught red-handed, pivot to say something negative about HRC, President Obama or his administration.

  3. Sarah H. Sanders also flatly denied that Bannon was instructed not to answer questions, so which liar do we believe, and, at the end of the day, if there’s nothing to hide, then why do this?

  4. I love that any ills or mistakes or unwillingness to be transparent made by Trump or his cronies or his former cronies all goes back to Hillary.

    I’ve said it numerous times. Put Hillary in jail. Go ahead. Lock her up. Hooray!

    Now can we get back to the people who actually have power, and who at least at one time influenced that power?

    Investigations take time. If Congress is wasting both time and resources on a witchhunt, then voters can decide in the next election to throw those deciders out. Until then, here we are. (And Mueller exists because of Trump’s Justice Department, not Hillary’s.)

    I’m no fan of the D-List cameo star, but I doubt there was collusion. There likely were only shady investors of Trump’s companies who were and remain under the thumb of Putin: hence all of Trump’s compliments since he decided to publicize himself at no cost: I mean, since he ran for office because he cares about people. So it was personal rather than political.

    Back to the present, Bannon is being uncooperative and it’s Hillary’s fault? Enough already.

    1. In fact, Mueller persisted under the Bush/Clinton “continuity of government” facilitating their “machinations” until leaving simultaneously with Hillary in 2013.

  5. Manafort trial to start just ahead of 2018 midterms. Collusion between Obergruppenfuhrer Mueller and the DNC? And the coup d’etat in America rolls on.

  6. He should just sit down, in front of Congress and face the music, like Hillary. I remember when the old toad sat there, with that disgusted and perturbed mug, which resembled someone who had been smelling farts, and lied, through her teeth, the entire time that she was questioned. Bannon could do the same as Hillary. Sit there, create inconsistent stories, scrunch up his face, roll his eyes incontempt and just lie. The only difference is that he will be held to account for lying; Hillary remains unscathed.

          1. Olly,…
            Is it 1%, or .1%?
            I can never keep it straight if it’s 99% of us who are dominated by the oligarchy, or 99.9% of us under the thumb of the oligarchs.

              1. They don’t realize that da largest transfer of wealth from da middle class to da corporations and
                Oligarch is is now underway.

              2. Good,…
                That makes it easier.
                A smaller group of c. 300,000 makes it easier for the anti-oligarchs to focus their jealousy and resentment.
                Would probably be harder to blame 3,000,000 oligarchs for all of their problems.

        1. Which of these allegedly false statements qualifies her to go to prison? BTW: I don’t believe your sources, but even assuming they are correct, which of these statements constitutes a criminal offense?

      1. Nutchacha, start here:

        Hillary Clinton Turned $1,000 Into $99,540, White House Says
        Published: March 30, 1994

        WASHINGTON, March 29— The White House said today that in 1978 Hillary Rodham Clinton invested $1,000 in commodities futures and that the investment grew in 10 months of trading in the notoriously volatile market into a gain of nearly $100,000.

        Seeking to dispel suggestions that the trades were risk-free and improperly arranged by an Arkansas lawyer who represents one of the state’s most powerful companies, the White House issued a statement this afternoon that said the First Lady had put up her own money and that she bore all of the financial risks in a marketplace where three out of four investors lose money.

        The officials also released a year’s worth of brokerage statements from one of Mrs. Clinton’s two accounts. They show winnings outrunning losses about three-to-one. ‘Too Nerve-Racking’

        Senior advisers to President Clinton and his wife said in a briefing this afternoon at the White House that Mrs. Clinton based her trades on information in The Wall Street Journal, and that she stopped trading by 1980, despite her success, because, as one senior aide put it, “she did not have the stomach for it any more and found it to be too nerve-racking.”

        The string of winning trades began in October 1978, as Mr. Clinton, then the state’s Attorney General, was leading in polls in the race for Governor.

        1. Wow! Maybe there should be a series of congressional and Department of Justice investigations of all the nefarious rumors regarding the Clintons going back to the 1980s. Oh, wait; never mind.

          This is to “let’s play that same tune again” georgie – paulie

          1. Marky Mark Mark – we can play in the here and now and send the Clintons to jail for life. They are serial criminals.

      2. Mespo gave you some, but how about the big lie about the Bill Clinton sex scandal all being ” a vast right wing conspiracy”??? Like she wasn’t the same one who complained about trying to keep “the dog on the porch.” She out and out lied to the public. And, tried to make it political to boot.

        Not to mention all the lies about the email server. To wit:

        On a personal note, don’t you get tired trying to defend the Democratic Party? It has to take a mental toll on you, pretending to believe their various stupid narratives. You know, you won’t turn into a pumpkin or anything if you just quit being a Democrat, and/or a Liberal SJW.

        Frankly, I think you will find it quite liberating to get away from all the Democratic Party race baiting and withc hunting stuff.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

        1. Again, why are you harping on old news about Hillary and Bill Clinton, when you have one of the world’s biggest liars stinking up the White House and degrading the office of POTUS? No one cares any more about Bill Clinton or what he did with his penis or what he said about what he did with his penis. That is classic Kellyanne Pivoting. Rather, if you are worried about Presidential penis activity, why don’t you concern yourself with the porn star the Fat Dotard was banging about the time his latest progeny was born and the payoff to keep the story quiet? The Fat Dotard is such a chronic, habitual liar that it’s hard to keep up with it. To even begin to compare his chronic disregard for the truth with anyone else who ever held the office of the Presidency is disingenuous.

  7. This notion that a President-elect should receive no executive privilege protection is an interesting one. One would think you’d need protection ever more as you vet cabinet members, contact other nations’ representatives and set forth policy goals and strategies.

  8. Do you mean to say he is acting like one of Hillary’s staff? Taking a page from the Socialist Progressive handbook? Nice. I want to see the look on the mensheviks faces when he use their tactic against them.

    1. Source?Site? Cites? Something? Anything? No???? REJECTED it should have been prefaced with in my personal opinion/

  9. And while this circus continues, the business of America goes on and is getting better and better. They are so insular in DC. Economy growing at almost 4%, joblessness down, wages moving up, bonuses for taxpayers and ISIS crushed. But DC and Media still obsessed with Dreamers and Scandal mongering.

    1. Ohio voted for Trump, no economic miracle in the state. And, that’s even though, there’s a gerrymandered Republican majority and an Ohio Republican Gov., the petulant Kasich. However, Ohio has held onto its status for desperation- most overdose deaths in the nation.

      1. Source?Site? Cites? Something? Anything? No???? REJECTED it should have been prefaced with in my personal opinion/

      2. Da T rump states are suffering. There is no coal resurgence, Here in blue ColorAdo things are a going up. My home state Michigan voted for T rump and not doin as well as blue Minnesota.

  10. With both houses in the control of the GOP, the White House counsel should have been able work out a reasonable scope of questions.

    Not only no but f*ck no. These are supposed to be two separatebranches of our government, When it comes to oversight, we’ve proven we are not better served when the majority party happens to be the same as the President. Oversight is supposed to be a constitutional duty, not some political game using a secret party handshake for access to the truth.

  11. Anything other than war crimes, that Trump may have done so far, – collusion, fraud, money laundering, emoluments, – pales in comparison. to the killing, maiming, and displacing of millions of people while destroying cities and entire cultures that were never a threat to the US.

    1. Sources? Sites? Cites? Facts? No?????? I thought not. REJECTED as subjective personal opinion


    “…It’s believed the Mueller subpoenaed Bannon to thwart any attempt by the White House to silence him. Bannon reportedly told Wolff that Trump probably did meet Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya when she visited the White House in June 2016 for a meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. Trump has previously denied knowing anything about the meeting.

    The subpoena compels Bannon to testify before a grand jury, skipping the voluntary interview with Mueller’s team that many in Trump’s orbit have elected to take. But Mueller may still leave open the option for an interview in lieu of grand jury testimony. Bannon is likely to accept such an option if it is made available, according to a source close to Bannon.

    Three people familiar with the special counsel’s investigation suggested Mueller moved to subpoena Bannon, rather than ask him to voluntarily appear for questioning, in order to thwart any potential attempt by the White House to pressure Bannon into refusing to cooperate.

    Bannon revealed he’d been subpoenaed by the grand jury when he met with lawmakers Tuesday behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, where he was questioned for more than 10 hours.”

    1. The June 2016 meeting with Veselnitskaya was at the Trump Tower, not the White House.
      As far as I know, Veselnitskaya was never at the White House.

      1. No wonder they didn’t offer any proof with the unfounded allegation just more subjective BS.

    2. “Bannon reportedly told Wolff that Trump probably did meet Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya when she visited the White House in June 2016 for…”

      Does not constitute proof only personal opinion which is unsupported by source, site, cite or anything resembling facts. You skipped the unknown sources part


    1. Not that I’m a fan of Obama, I’m not. But Bannon didn’t plead the fifth. If he did, he would probably be given immunity by the committee and forced to testify. And his counsel probably knows that. Why didn’t it happen to the nine you mention? Scale of the offense/problem, and politics.

      1. Curri and Roland,

        The problem is that the people refuse to testify. This also happened under GWB with Rove claiming executive privilege. It shows the US has no rule of law and we do not have a Congress which is willing to assert its power as a co-equal branch of govt.

        As Glenn Greenwald and others have pointed out, Democrats who consider themselves leaders of the resistance and compare Trump to Hitler just gave him unchecked surveillance powers. So why is that? I would say: “two wings of the same vulture” (Randolpf Bourne).

        The whole system is corrupt. Mueller is involved with some of his minions in the Uranium One illegality-so there’s another vulture for you!

          1. Slohrss,

            I loved that too! Here is some more: “…War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense…Other values such as artistic creation, knowledge, reason, beauty, the enhancement of life, are instantly and almost unanimously sacrificed,”


              1. Olly,

                You are welcome. Now pay your tax for the sugar (aka, “guilty pleasure”) you receive reading this blog!!! 🙂

            1. Jill, thanks for the introduction to Bourne – had never heard of him. Plenty of people in all eras speaking truth to power but too few paying attention.

      1. Or, in the universe in which rational people live, Special Counsel is investigating whether very serious crimes were committed by the cabal of incompetent sycophants the orange buffoon brought with him to defile the white house. Mueller, who is a decorated Marine combat hero, is continuing his lifetime of dedication to the United States Constitution; although no longer in the jungles of Vietnam, but in the swamp of this treasonous, criminal operation some call the trump administration.

        this is to “but Pravda Faux News says he’s a RINO or some such” mikey

        1. ha ha ha Marky Mark

          Mueller is no hero except to the Deep State powers.

          Look up HSBC money laundering.
          Look up “suppression of Muslim anti-terrorism efforts by Federal and local law enforcement agencies”, look up “Fast and Furious”………..

          1. Mueller is a hero if he rescues da country from da T rump and Putin
            Oligarchs who are robbing da middle class here and in Russia blind.

  13. The Mercer’s Bannon is the face of the Republican big donor party and it’s not pretty.
    Currently, in a Wisconsin race, the GOP out-of-state donors have spent $3.1 mil., while the Democratic contenders have just $550,000.
    But, citizens are waking up, “State Democrat Scores Special Election Upset in Wisconsin GOP Stronghold…(even though the Koch-linked) ” Americans for Prosperity spent $50,000 on ads for her opponent”.
    Other GOP spending in Wisconsin, by Illinois’ Uihlein’s will, with hope, meet the same fate it met in Alabama.
    Anticipating the future defeat of the Koch’s Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Gov. Greitens (Missouri), is sweet for those who believe in democracy.

    1. and the female Senator what’s her name is getting 3/4ths of her campaign contributions from out of state Democrat sources according to the other new articles available today.

      Those who believe in democracy should go find a country that is a Democracy because it doesn’t exist in our Representative Constitutional Republic. Especially the so called Dempocrats who are nothing ifNOT democratic with their all powerful ruling class and Collective set up.

    1. Against self-incrimination. The hacks in Congress are looking for more poo they can fling at Trump.

    2. No as explained in another post. If anything he can cite possibly classified information and no surety it’s ok to speak in open session without violating NSA rules.

      1. This seems like an easy fix. Work out the scope of the questions so as not to inadvertently release classified information.

        There should be no interference with the truth, only protection of classified information. That said, Mueller should not be allowed to shake down every single person ever in contact with the President in order to find a crime, any crime, to pin on him. The Russian collusion with Trump didn’t pan out, but it did with Hillary. So why the focus on Trump if not political? There has been one indictment of Fusion One. Unravel that thread.

        Perhaps there is more to the story than I know. As it stands, it appears that Mueller has subpoenaed Bannon merely to interrogate him to find dirt, and he is not allowed to cast his net that big. As for the House, if they limit their questions to the Russia probe, then he should cooperate. The White House is wrong if it issued a blanket gag order.

Comments are closed.