Steve Bannon claims he doesn’t have a lawyer yet in the Russia probe, but investigators will almost certainly call him to testify.
The Breitbart News chief and former White House chief strategist was consulted by President Donald Trump before he fired FBI director James Comey, and congressional investigators plan to question him about the decision, reported Politico.
“I think it’ll be very important at an appropriate time to bring him before the committee,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “There are a whole range of issues we need to talk to him about.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office declined to comment on the report, but former Trump aides told Politico that Bannon will almost certainly serve as a witness in that probe — if he hasn’t already.
“Post-election, there’s a story every day about some other bombshell, and Bannon would have had a conversation with Trump about it,” said former Justice Department prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg. “It doesn’t mean he’s violated any law, but there’s no way this investigation gets done without him being interviewed thoroughly. Zero percent chance.”
Mueller and lawmakers are investigating whether the president intended to obstruct justice by firing Comey, who has told Congress that Trump asked him to wind down his probe of former national security adviser Mike Flynn — who pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to FBI agents.
“He’s an important witness,” said one former federal prosecutor. “If he’s saying, ‘Don’t do this. This is a political disaster,’ and the president does it anyway, what he has to say might be helpful to the Mueller team in an obstruction case.”
They’re also investigating the role of data firm Cambridge Analytica, which identified potential Trump supporters to be served highly targeted ads and Russian “fake news” on Facebook.
Bannon reported an ownership stake of at least $1 million in the data firm, which he introduced to the Trump campaign in summer 2016 after its previous client, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), dropped out of the presidential race.
Cambridge Analytica’s billionaire backers Robert Mercer and Rebekah Mercer, began donating heavily to Trump and helped install Bannon and Kellyanne Conway to lead the campaign into the election.
The data firm’s CEO, Alexander Nix, reportedly tried to connect with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to coordinate the release of data stolen from the Hillary Clinton operation by Russian hackers.
Nix is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee.
Bannon and Flynn were reportedly among top Trump campaign advisers who were in frequent direct contact with George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty in October to making false statements about Russian contacts to FBI agents.
The Breitbart News head has used his public platform to attack Mueller and his team, and he’d be free to speak openly about his interview if he wished.