FBI agents showed up last week at Steve Bannon’s home to serve a subpoena to appear before a grand jury in the special counsel probe of Trump campaign ties to Russia.
A source revealed new details about how the former White House chief strategist learned he would be compelled to testify in the case as Robert Mueller’s team zeroes in on President Donald Trump and his inner circle, reported NBC News.
The FBI agents were not aware Jan. 9, when they arrived at Bannon’s home in Washington, D.C., that just hours earlier he had hired attorney William Burck — who is also representing White House counsel Don McGahn and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Bannon told the agents that he had retained counsel, and the FBI sent the order to Burck.
The subpoena appears to be the first used by Mueller to compel grand jury testimony from a member of Trump’s inner circle, although others have been issued for witnesses outside the White House.
A second subpoena was used in an attempt to compel Bannon’s testimony Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee, where the former White House official refused to answer questions about the Trump administration or presidential transition.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the committee’s chairman, issued a subpoena — but Bannon’s lawyer contacted the White House, which reportedly “doubled down” on demands that he avoid answering questions on those broad topics.
It’s not clear whether Burck, the attorney, spoke to McGahn, his client and a witness in the Mueller probe.
Bannon will not attempt to stonewall Mueller, according to reports.
Mueller may not force Bannon to appear before the grand jury but could instead allow him to be questioned by investigators in the special counsel’s offices.
The subpoena signals that Bannon is not personally a focus of investigators, because Justice Department rules allow prosecutors to subpoena targets only in rare instances, reported the New York Times.
Mueller issued the subpoena after Bannon was quoted in Michael Wolff’s book about the White House as saying Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with Russians was “treasonous” and predicting investigators would ultimately focus on money laundering by the president’s associates.