Stephen Bannon went down in flames in the eyes of President Donald Trump and his supporters after disparaging comments from the former Trump confidant and Breitbart publisher about the president surfaced in a controversial new book.
Now, Bannon must face questioning from special counsel Robert Mueller, who on Tuesday issued a subpoena for Trump’s former chief of staff to speak to him about the ongoing investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. election.
Several White House staffers have already voluntarily spoke with Mueller’s team, according to a CNN report.
The New York Times, citing a person with direct knowledge, said the grand jury subpoena for Bannon “could be a negotiating tactic” and that Mueller would likely allow Bannon to speak with investigators instead of going before the grand jury.
The subpoena came after Bannon’s comments to author Michael Wolff became public, according to The New York Times.
In Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” Bannon is quoted as saying a June 2016 meeting Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman surrendered to the FBI last year and pleaded not guilty to charges that he laundered millions of dollars through overseas shell companies — using the money to buy luxury cars, real estate, antique rugs and expensive clothes.
Bannon also said he assumed Trump Jr. delivered information about the meeting to Trump, despite denials from the two, and downplayed the likelihood of illegal coordination with Russia while saying there was dread that Mueller’s investigation could turn up something else nefarious, such as money laundering.
Trump disavowed Bannon, saying his former top aide had “lost his mind” and later nicknaming him “Sloppy Steve.”
Bannon later apologized to Trump Jr. and quit his role at Breitbart.