Steve Bannon expanded the definition of executive privilege enormously as his lawyer chatted directly to the White House, vetting whether or not it was okay for the former CEO of Trump’s campaign and White House Strategic Advisor to answer even the simplest question. But even with Trump’s legal team listening in, Bannon did manage to answer a few questions beyond giving his name.
And, according to Axios, what he did say, contained at least one big red flag.
Steve Bannon made one conspicuous slip up in his closed-door hearing on Tuesday with the House Intelligence Committee, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the confidential proceedings. Bannon admitted that he’d had conversations with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and legal spokesman Mark Corallo about Don Junior’s infamous meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower in June 2016.
Why is that such a big deal? Because the Trump Tower meeting was supposed to be something that was such a fizzle that it was brought to a close after 20 minutes. Trump Jr. said that he “gave it no further thought.” Kushner claimed that he was so bored that he left early. Manafort says he used the time to make notes about other things.
Only … Bannon was not part of the campaign at the time of the meeting, and none of the people that Bannon says he talked to about the meeting had originally been in the meeting. So why was everyone talking about a meeting that went nowhere?
If the conversations took place after Trump wrote his infamous Air Force One excuse for Trump Jr., then Bannon’s discussions might have been about how to deal with the false statements made by Trump and their potential use in an obstruction case. If the discussions took place before the information spilled to the public, it means that knowledge of the meeting was widespread among Trump’s team and that this “nothingburger” was getting a lot of attention.
Either way it’s a very good reason to plant Bannon back behind the podium and force him to answer some questions or charge him with contempt of Congress.