Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Steve Bannon: Former Trump aide strikes deal to avoid grand jury appearance in Russia probe

Mr Bannon was recently disavowed by the President himself, who said his former White House strategist had 'lost his mind'

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 17 January 2018 16:31 GMT
Steve Bannon says the firing of James Comey was the biggest mistake in modern political history

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has struck a deal to speak with special counsel Robert Mueller and his team investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

Mr Bannon, who was recently disavowed by President Donald Trump, will discuss his time with the Trump campaign and White House directly with the investigators, and will bypass questioning in front of a grand jury.

Mr Mueller's team had secured a subpoena to compel Mr Bannon to testify, which could have forced him to speak with the grand jury.

FBI agents reportedly showed up at Mr Bannon's home in Washington, DC last week with the subpoena, only to find out that the former White House employee had secured the legal representation of William Burck hours earlier, according to reports.

Those agents then sent the subpoena they had intended on delivering to Mr Bannon to Mr Burck, who is also representing two other witnesses in Mr Mueller's probe.

Bill Murray unveiled as Steve Bannon on Saturday Night Live

News of Mr Bannon's coming cooperation with the Mueller probe comes just after the bombshell, tell-all book about Mr Trump's first year in office, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. That book portrayed a chaotic go of it, and painted a picture of Mr Trump erratic, impulsive, and disinterested chief executive. In one segment of the book, Mr Bannon is quoted calling Donald Trump Jr -- who took a meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower during the campaign after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton -- "treasonous" for the contact.

In response to the book, Mr Trump released a statement saying that his former chief strategist had lost his mind, and downplayed Mr Bannon's role in his political operation.

"When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," Mr Trump said in the statement, emailed to reporters.

When Mr Bannon left the White House in August, the White House said that it was a planned departure, and that he had done so on his own volition.

Mr Bannon then returned to his position with Breitbart News, a far right news organisation that regularly appeals to the nationalist voters who support Mr Trump. Mr Bannon has since left that post in the fallout of the recent book, which saw him lose the support of the billionaire Mercer family that bankrolls Breitbart's operations.

Several individuals connected to the Trump campaign have already been indicted as a result of Mr Mueller's probe, which Mr Trump has called a "witch hunt".

That includes charges filed against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, who were indicted for failing to register as agents for the government of Ukraine, and for alleged money laundering. Both of those individuals pleaded not guilty to the charges, and Mr Manafort has since then counter sued Mr Mueller's team saying that the charges are unrelated to the jurisdiction of the probe.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced out of his White House position within weeks of Mr Trump's inauguration, also faced charges, but negotiated a plea deal with Mr Mueller's probe. Mr Flynn was accused of making false statements to the FBI about contacts he had had with Russian officials during the presidential transition period.

Finally, George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, also admitted to making false statements to FBI investigators when asked whether he had contact with high-level Russian contacts during the campaign.

Mr Trump has downplayed Mr Papadopoulos' role in the campaign.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in