Special counsel could be using subpoena of Steve Bannon as a negotiating tactic, the New York Times reports.
President Donald Trump's former chief strategist has been subpoenaed in a special counsel probe into Russia’s alleged attempt to influence the 2016 presidential campaign and whether associates of the Trump campaign were involved in those efforts, a report said Tuesday.
The grand jury subpoena of Steve Bannon was issued last week, The New York Times reported, citing a person with direct knowledge of the probe.
It comes just after the publication of a book in which Bannon is quoted as saying that Trump's close associates, including son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, a former campaign chairman, were "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" for meeting with Russians at Trump Tower in New York in the hopes of securing "dirt" on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor — with no lawyers,” Bannon said, according to the book ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’.
Bannon earlier Tuesday testified before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session in a separate probe being headed by lawmakers into whether Trump and his close associates worked with Russia to sway the outcome of the 2016 race for the White House.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is heading the FBI's investigation into the matter. His office declined to comment on the ongoing investigation when asked by Anadolu Agency about the reported Bannon subpoena.
The Times reported Mueller could be using the subpoena as a negotiating tactic in the hopes that he forgoes the grand jury appearance and chooses instead to speak with investigators.
"The subpoena is a sign that Mr. Bannon is not personally the focus of the investigation. Justice Department rules allow prosecutors to subpoena the targets of investigations only in rare circumstances," the Times reported.