The AP is reporting that throughout Steve Bannon's twelve-hour testimony with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, his attorney, Bill Burck was asking "the White House counsel’s office by phone during the Tuesday session whether his client could answer the questions."
After his testimony, the first report about it was that Trump's former BFF asserted 'executive privilege' to refuse to answer almost all of their questions.
Last night Rep. Adam Schiff told CNN that he was furious because the committee issued Bannon a subpoena to assure his cooperation, and still he stonewalled them. "This was unprecedented in all the interviews that we have done."
During this morning's Fox News America's Newsroom, Rep. Trey Gowdy was equally frustrated with Steve Bannon and his lawyer.
Host Bill Hemmer opened up the interview, "I heard you say last night Steve Bannon was using a tortured version of executive privilege."
Rep. Gowdy said, "We spent the first half of the day trying to understand what in the world he was talking about with executive privilege. His version of executive privilege is it covers the transition, the time he was at the White House, and covers time in memoriam. That is no one's definition of executive privilege."
He continued, "We spent several hours trying to figure out just what he was talking about and then in the afternoon we had to dodge around these three categories that are apparently off limits... This is the same person who accused two of the president's family members of committing treasonous acts. Of course, we'll want to cross-examine him on what he thinks was treasonous, but if everything is off-limits that's a really short conversation."
Rep. Gowdy isn't on the side of the angels here, since he wants to defend Trump at all costs, but he makes good points while doing so. How is it possible to tell an author of a book things you've reportedly seen or heard about the Trump team and then clam up to Congress?
Gowdy was frustrated with Bannon's lawyer because when he began to answer, Burck shut him up.
Now we know why.
It’s unclear who Burck was communicating with in the White House or whether it was top White House lawyer Don McGahn, who Burck is also representing in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia...
But when the lawmaker’s questions moved to Bannon’s time in the White House, Burck, his attorney who also represents White House counsel Don McGahn, got on the phone with the counsel’s office. The official wouldn’t say who Burck spoke with in the counsel’s office or whether it was his client, McGahn.
How is this possible and allowable? Here's a good primer on 'executive privilege' but it doesn't cover lawyers colluding with each other in real time during a hearing.