President Donald Trump personally made the decision to order former White House strategist Steve Bannon to limit his answers to Congressional investigators in testimony this week, according to a report on Thursday.
Sources with firsthand knowledge of Bannon’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee told Foreign Policy that deputy White House counsel Uttam Dhillon made the recommendation that Trump order Bannon to refuse to answer questions about his time in the White House or on the transition team.
While Dhillon apparently concluded that Bannon may have “legitimate” claims to executive privilege, those protections are not expected to extend to Bannon’s testimony before Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Foreign Policy notes:
Dhillon’s private and previously unreported legal advice to Trump could ultimately go against the president’s interest, however, by making it increasingly difficult for any administration official — or even a member of the president’s family who advises Trump — to refuse to provide information to Mueller.
Dhillon’s advice might prove to be a “Pyrrhic victory,” one senior administration official told Foreign Policy.
While the president might be able to “poke the Congress in the eye,” the same legal rationale undercuts any effort to restrict the special counsel’s right to interview current or former Trump aides, the official said.
Bannon and other members of Trump’s inner-circle are expected to be interviewed by Mueller’s team in coming days.
Read the entire report here.