Steve Bannon subpoenaed by special counsel

Donald Trump and Theresa May

Bannon's attorney consulted with the White House after the panel issued the subpoena, but "the White House effectively doubled down on the gag rule", Schiff said.

Bannon refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee about the presidential transition team or his time in the administration.

Rep. Mike Conway, R-Texas, who is overseeing the panel's Russian Federation probe, said they expect additional testimony from Bannon after further discussions with the White House over what lawmakers in both parties considered an overly broad claim of executive privilege.

Coming back into the Trumpian fold is "certainly within the realm of possibility", says one person close to Bannon, who asked for anonymity in order to speak frankly.

Bannon and his lawyer claimed the White House told him not to tell the committee much.

But when the lawmaker's questions moved to Bannon's time in the White House, Burck, his attorney who also represents White House counsel Don McGahn, got on the phone with the counsel's office.

On Tuesday, Bannon testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Those key elements bear directly on the criminal investigation now underway by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is charged with investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation and whether the president obstructed justice by firing Comey or by taking other actions to thwart investigators.

Some believe that the official subpoena is simply a bargaining tool to get Bannon to talk, as reported by CNN.

It was the first time Mr Mueller is known to have used a subpoena against a member of Mr Trump's inner circle, the paper reported. At the time, it was revealed that Mr. Papadopoulos had been a "cooperating witness" with the special counsel's Russian Federation probe since his secret arrest in July.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., one of the Republicans leading the committee's investigation, reacted with exasperation to Bannon and the White House's claims.

After Bannon initially refused to answer questions about the matter, Devin Nunes, the committee's Republican party chairman, authorized a subpoena during the meeting to press Bannon to respond.

Committee members said they will bring Bannon back as early as Thursday for more questioning under a subpoena they issued Tuesday. The White House maintains that congressional committees need to go through an accommodation process with the White House Counsel's Office before asking about those periods. Wolff stands by his account.

After excerpts from the book were published this month, Trump derided Bannon publicly and threatened to sue him for defamation.

Last week he was forced to step down from Breitbart News, which he had helped make a powerful conservative force, and he lost the support of the Mercer family, wealthy conservative power brokers.

Mr Bannon was sacked by the White House in August and returned to the right-wing news website Breitbart News.

The subpoena could be a negotiating tactic. White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who has said he expects Mueller to wrap up his investigation related to the president shortly, declined to comment.

"We said 'Hey, hey, pump the brakes, '" the official said.

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