Former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon remained tight-lipped during a House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday, repeatedly refusing to answer some questions despite receiving a congressional subpoena for the panel’s Russia inquiry.
“I am not authorized to answer that question,” Bannon said dozens of times, according to two sources with knowledge of the closed-door hearing who did not have permission to speak publicly.
It was Bannon’s second appearance before the House committee, and his responses showed ongoing coordination between Bannon and the White House despite his estrangement from President Trump.
Bannon was fired last August and had a public falling-out with Trump in January after his brutal criticism of Trump’s eldest son, son-in-law and other top aides was published in the book “Fire and Fury.”
White House lawyers approved a list of 25 questions for the House committee that Bannon was allowed to answer, according to three sources.
Bannon told the lawmakers that other inquiries would infringe upon executive privilege, referring to the president’s right to protect confidential discussions or material.
The Trump administration has not formally asserted executive privilege at this point. It’s unclear whether Congress will try to force the issue by holding Bannon in contempt.
“The White House will continue to accommodate Congress’ request for information,” said Raj Shah, a White House spokesman.
Bannon apparently was more talkative when he met recently with prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller III’s office. A source said Bannon answered questions for 20 hours, which was first reported by NBC News.
Mueller is leading a criminal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and whether Trump or his aides violated the law.