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Bannon refuses to comply with subpoena

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AFP

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon declined on Tuesday to comply with a subpoena ordering him to answer questions from a US House intelligence panel about his time at the White House as part of its investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the US election.

After Mr Bannon initially refused to answer questions about the matter, Devin Nunes, the committee’s Republican party chairman, authorised a subpoena during the meeting to press Mr Bannon to respond.

Even then, Mr Bannon refused to answer questions after his lawyer had conferred with the White House and was told again to refuse to answer questions about the transition period immediately after Mr Trump was elected, or Mr Bannon’s time in the administration, according to Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee.

Separately, the New York Times reported that Mr Bannon had been subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify before

a grand jury in a probe of alleged ties between Russia and Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, on Tuesday.

It was the first time Mr Mueller is known to have used a subpoena against a member of Mr Trump’s inner circle, the Times said. It cited a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

A spokesman for Mr Mueller’s office declined comment. Bill Burck, a lawyer for Mr Bannon, could not immediately be reached for comment on the subpoena or his testimony before the House panel.

The reported subpoena of Mr Bannon does not mean he is a target of Mr Mueller’s criminal investigation.

Mr Bannon, a champion of Mr Trump’s “America First” agenda, was among the Republican’s closest aides during the 2016 election campaign, the presidential transition and his first months in office. But the pair had a bitter public falling out over comments Mr Bannon made to author Michael Wolff for his recent book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Mr Bannon spent hours on Tuesday meeting behind closed doors with members of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. He was the latest high-profile figure to appear before the panel as part of its investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the US election.

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