The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a Thursday meeting to hear testimony from Steve Bannon — but it’s an open question whether President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist will even show up.
The White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill late Wednesday laying out its explanation for why Trump’s transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege, a move intended to shield Bannon from answering questions about that time period, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
But House members from both parties have so far rejected that broad interpretation of executive privilege, raising the stakes for Bannon’s standoff with Congress.
Lawmakers from both parties say Bannon should be held in contempt if he fails to appear for the scheduled interview Thursday morning, a date that has already been pushed back three times as the committee has fought with Bannon’s lawyer and the White House over the scope of the lawmakers’ questions. It’s unclear whether lawmakers will take that step, but they are growing increasingly agitated.
“We have to hold him in contempt” if he fails to show up, one GOP source said.
Bannon was hit with a subpoena during his initial testimony last month for refusing to discuss questions about his time in the White House and the presidential transition, angering lawmakers from both parties for claiming he had to reserve the right for the White House to invoke executive privilege. The subpoena is still pending.
Bannon is one of several key Trump associates whose testimony has been delayed before the House panel. The others include Corey Lewandowski, the President’s former campaign manager, who told the panel in his testimony last month that he wasn’t prepared to answer questions about matters after he was dismissed from the campaign in June 2016. While Democrats have demanded Lewandowski be hit with a subpoena to reappear before the panel to answer more questions, Republicans have resisted.
“I don’t think he needs to be subpoenaed,” Florida’s GOP Rep. Tom Rooney, a key member of the panel, said of Lewandowski. “I think he came in and answered eight hours’ worth of questions based on the letter we sent him and his employment with the Trump Organization and Trump…