It’s a big day for former top White House strategist and former Breitbart chairman, Stephen K. Bannon. He testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, the same day news broke that he has also been subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller to appear before a grand jury. It’s the first time a grand jury subpoena has been issued on one of Trump’s inner circle. So much for this Russia investigation being a “hoax!”
There are many implications of the rare grand jury subpoena. One of them: Bannon won’t be able to consult with his attorney during his under-oath testimony. Jacob Wohl, a conservative political commentator noted this distinction on Twitter.
IMPORTANT: Remember that Steve Bannon will NOT be able to consult with his attorney during his under-oath testimony in front of Robert Mueller's Grand Jury
— Jacob Wohl (@JacobAWohl) January 16, 2018
Joyce Alene, University of Alabama Law Professor and MSNBC contributor commented that the special case of Bannon’s subpoena may indicate that he was unwilling to testify.
The obvious reason for Mueller to have issued a grand jury subpoena to Bannon, but not to others, would be because Bannon declined to come in voluntarily. Not the only possible reason, but satisfies Occam’s razor. https://t.co/6npHwERsjs
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) January 16, 2018
Legal expert, Renato Mariotti says that Bannon will face tougher questioning and cross-examination. If Bannon incriminates himself he can be indicted.
Bannon has hired the same attorney as Donald F. McGahn II and the former White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus. Mariotti explained that sharing an attorney could “help the witnesses tailor their testimony.” That won’t be a problem if Bannon appears before the grand jury.
11/ Mueller may be concerned that Bannon won't be as candid with his attorney present as he would be with no attorney in front of the grand jury. Grand jury questioning, with a court reporter, also lends itself to a harsher questioning style akin to cross-examination. /end
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) January 16, 2018
According to the New York Times report, Mueller could also be using the subpoena as a negotiating tactic.
“Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices about ties between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia and about the president’s conduct in office,” wrote Michael S. Schmidt.
A prosecutor who investigated Bill Clinton, Solomon L. Wisenberg, said that the subpoena may give Bannon “cover” and an excuse to tell the whole story.
“By forcing someone to testify through a subpoena, you are providing the witness with cover because they can say, ‘I had no choice — I had to go in and testify about everything I knew,’” said Wisenberg.
Bannon’s explosive comments in a book about what he called the “treasonous” Trump Tower meeting by Donald Trump Jr. and the Russians have thrust Bannon back into the spotlight and added scrutiny from Congress and Mueller. At the same time, Cambridge Analytica, the data firm where Bannon held a position on the board has been asked to turn over internal documents as part of the Russia investigation.
Bannon’s public feud with Trump could forever change the Russia investigation all by itself.
For more, see the video from Bloomberg Politics below:
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