Steve Bannon
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

What The Associated Press is reporting is not normal:

Steve Bannon’s attorney relayed questions, in real time, to the White House during a House Intelligence Committee interview of the former Trump chief strategist.

That’s according to people familiar with the closed-door session who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

During the day-long interview Tuesday, Bannon’s attorney Bill Burck was asking the White House counsel’s office by phone whether his client could answer the questions. He was told by that office not to discuss his work on the transition or in the White House.

It’s fine if the chairman of the committee lets you get away with it, right? It’s also noteworthy that the White House counsel’s office is run by Don McGahn, whose legal counsel in the Russia probe is Bill Burck. So, the same lawyer is representing Bannon and McGahn and he’s talking to McGahn’s office about questions that Bannon is receiving from congressional investigators before Bannon will agree to answer those questions.

I think we need some kind of attorney ethics panel, because this doesn’t seem remotely kosher. But, yet again, it happened because it was allowed to happen. The acting chairman, Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, did issue a subpoena to compel Bannon to answer questions. Still, it’s ridiculous that during the testimony Bill Burck was allowed to communicate with the White House via phone.

Of course, the White House is completely dishonest about their role in this:

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to say whether Trump administration officials had asked Bannon to claim executive privilege to protect confidentiality in the White House.

“Congress must consult with the White House prior to obtaining confidential material,” she said, reading from a statement. “This is part of a judicially recognized process.”

What she didn’t say is that the White House was basically teleconferenced in to the interview and was telling Bannon precisely what to answer.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at