Schiff: Bannon, Lewandowski defy committee’s requests in Russia probe
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is refusing to testify about his time on the post-election transition team and in the administration.
"The White House has limited his testimony to a set of fourteen yes-or-no questions they pre-approved," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement, describing a communication from Bannon’s attorney about his participation in the committee’s probe of Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
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Schiff said a second witness, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, also indicated through an attorney that he won’t make a second appearance before the committee, "despite an earlier pledge to do so."
“Neither Bannon nor Lewandowski have articulated legitimate grounds for refusing to appear and answer questions before Congress, and we fully expect them to return," Schiff said.
Bannon infuriated Republican and Democratic lawmakers after he refused last month to answer most of the committee’s questions about his time on the transition team, in the White House and after he left the administration in August. The Republican-controlled committee subpoenaed him on the spot, but he still refused to answer many of their questions.
Bannon suggested the White House had asked him to refrain from discussing anything subsequent to his two months on the campaign and said his conversations could infringe on executive privilege, though President Donald Trump has not formally invoked it.
Bannon’s attorney William Burck has said that Bannon is willing to answer the committee’s questions but that the House must negotiate with the White House to determine the scope of his testimony. But those negotiations have dragged for weeks and two expected appearances by Bannon were postponed.
Schiff said it’s now necessary to "enforce the subpoena on Bannon" — a call that could include seeking a contempt of Congress citation. He also called on the committee to subpoena Lewandowski to force his return to Capitol Hill.
"The Majority has committed to requiring both Bannon and Lewandowski to answer Committee questions and it is time that we move to do so," he said.
February 7, 2018 at 11:38AM