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President Donald Trump personally ordered Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, to limit his testimony and not answer certain questions when appearing before the House Intelligence Committee this week, according to reports.
Trump made the decision on the advice of deputy White House counsel Uttam Dhillon, two sources with direct access told Foreign Policy on Thursday.
Dhillon reportedly believed that the administration may have been able to claim executive privilege with regard to certain matters. However, those claims do not extend so far as to allow the administration to limit the testimony of current or former officials.
The revelations come after the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Bannon’s attorney Bill Burck was relaying questions to the White House counsel’s office via phone throughout the 10-hour private House investigation hearing.
Bannon’s refusal to answer any questions about his time at the White House and his time serving on Trump’s presidential transition team frustrated the committee, which then issued a subpoena to secure the former aide’s testimony.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is leading the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and allegations of the Trump campaign’s collusion.
Asked whether there were questions that the White House was afraid of Bannon answering, she replied, “Not that I’m aware of. I think we’ve been pretty clear what our position is with regard to this entire process—that there was absolutely no collusion. But in terms of what he might say, I can’t answer that, I can’t speculate on that.”
H/T Foreign Policy
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.