Bannon says under WH orders not to answer House committee
Washington: Former Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon has refused to answer questions from a congressional committee probing the president's campaign links to Russia, saying he was under orders from the White House not to.
Bannon was quizzed voluntarily behind closed doors by the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, the first time he has testified in the probe investigating whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia in its bid to influence the 2016 US elections.
It was unlikely to be Bannon's last such testimony: the New York Times and the Washington Post reported late Tuesday that Bannon has been subpoenaed by Robert Mueller, the Justice Department special counsel investigating the same issue.
That made Bannon the first person from Trump's inner circle to receive a grand jury subpoena from Mueller in the probe, which is also looking at whether Trump has tried to obstruct the investigation.
When appearing before the Intelligence Committee, Bannon refused to answer a number of questions, citing "executive privilege" allowing the president to keep information from the public.
"Steve Bannon and his attorney asserted a remarkably broad definition of executive privilege," Representative Jim Himes, a Democratic member of the committee, said on CNN.
"Now remember, it's the president who has the executive privilege and so they went back, conferred with the White House, and the White House said that anything that happened, any communications that happened while Steve Bannon was in the White House were off limits," Himes said.