Now it's Robert Mueller's turn to examine Steve Bannon

It's a big week for Trump's inner circle, which will be under the spotlight

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 16, 2018 2:08PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Steve Bannon, a man who once served as chief strategist to President Donald Trump and as chief executive to right-wing news outlet Breitbart, has been issued a grand jury subpoena by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The subpoena issued by Mueller marks the first time that a subpoena has been issued by Mueller to either a current or former member of Trump's inner circle, according to The New York Times. It contains implied good news for Bannon himself, since Justice Department rules only rarely allow people who are under investigation to be subpoenaed, though Mueller's decision to subpoena Bannon could simply be a tactic to convince the former Trump aide to meet with the special counsel's investigators privately rather than in front of a grand jury, where it will be more difficult for Bannon to avoid or stop certain questions.

The decision to subpoena Bannon has sobering implications for Trump himself. The subpoena was issued after Bannon was quoted in Michael Wolff's book "Fire and Fury," talking about possible money laundering between Trump's team and Russian government officials, as well as describing the June 2016 meeting for "dirt" on Hillary Clinton between a Kremlin-connected lawyer and top members of Trump's campaign, including Donald Trump Jr., as "treasonous." While Bannon did not work for the campaign at the time that meeting occurred, he was a major player for Trump during other controversial moments, such as the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn and the WikiLeaks release of thousands of stolen personal emails from the Clinton campaign. He also helped lead the Trump transition after its former head, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, was fired.

Bannon is also one of three members of Trump's inner circle who has had to testify before Congress this week. Bannon appeared on Tuesday, while Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will testify later this week before an unspecified committee, according to CNN. Lewandowski has repeatedly insisted that he did not collude in any way with the Russian government and that he is eager to clear his name.

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who has worked for Trump since the start of his presidential campaign, will testify before the House Intelligence Committee as soon as Friday, according to CNN. She is expected to be interviewed about any contacts that occurred between Trump associates and Russian officials, as well as the White House's controversial response to the report last summer about the June 2016 meeting.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Corey Lewandowski Donald Trump Hope Hicks Robert Mueller Steve Bannon