Steve Bannon, who served as President Trump’s campaign manager and senior policy adviser before falling out with the White House, has agreed to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, avoiding the prospect of appearing under subpoena before a grand jury, Fox News has learned.
Bannon was subpoenaed last week by the special counsel, initially requiring him to appear before a federal grand jury as part of the Russia investigation.
But sources told Fox News Wednesday that Bannon had reached an agreement to interview with Mueller’s team instead.
Sources told Fox News that Bannon’s initial grand jury subpoena was an “overreach” by the FBI.
A spokesman for Mueller declined comment.
Fox News learned of the Bannon-Mueller agreement just hours after the former White House chief strategist left Capitol Hill, after testifying for nearly 12 hours behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee.
The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Bannon refused to answer questions about his time in the White House or his work on the presidential transition. His refusal prompted an immediate subpoena from committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
Schiff said that it was the first time Republicans on the committee issued a subpoena in response to a witness refusing to answer questions at the instruction of the White House.
Sources told Fox News that Bannon will return to Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon for another meeting with the committee.
Bannon’s subpoena to interview with Mueller, and the latest subpoena from the committee, come after the publication of Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” where Bannon made comments blasting Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, and ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Bannon described their infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya during the campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
“Even if you thought that was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s—t, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon is quoted as saying in the book.
Bannon is just the latest Trump campaign associate to be summoned to interview with Mueller.
In October 2017, Manafort and his associate Rick Gates were indicted by a federal grand jury on 12 counts, as part of Mueller’s investigation. Both pleaded not guilty.
The special counsel’s office told Fox News that the counts included conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agent Registration (FARA) statements, false statements and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign banks and financial accounts.
Fox News learned Tuesday that Manafort’s next court appearance would be Feb. 14 for a status hearing. The government had proposed the trial begin May 14, but the date may be pushed to October. At this point, there is no official start date.
Mueller’s team also charged former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos with making false statements to FBI agents about his contacts with people close to the Russian government. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to the charges in the Mueller investigation.