Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, but the interview yielded little information about Russian election interference because Bannon would only answer questions pre-approved by the White House.
Bannon provided the committee with a list of 25 questions given to him by the White House, and refused to elaborate on anything outside that list.
Bannon’s list of questions excluded anything regarding work he did for President Donald Trump after the 2016 election, frustrating lawmakers interested in information about the transition and afterward that could aid in the Russia investigation.
According to The Hill:
“The California lawmaker (Rep. Adam Schiff) said Bannon's questions were intentionally scripted to be misleading. When Bannon was asked whether he "met" with an individual, he would say "no." But when asked whether he had any communications with that same person, he would respond "yes" but then assert executive privilege.
Contempt of Congress?
The committee must now decide how to respond to Bannon’s lack of cooperation, including deciding whether to hold him in contempt of Congress.
The committee is somewhat split on whether to go that route.
“Contempt is a big deal, and I don’t have unilateral control over that conversation,” said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), saying House Speaker Paul Ryan would need to be involved in that decision.
Schiff was not as guarded in his response.
“In terms of the next steps I think the next steps for the Congress to take is to initiate contempt proceedings,” Schiff said. “We cannot permit a situation where the White House is allowed to script self-serving and misleading questions and provide it to a witness and effectively coach his testimony in a very narrow and misleading way.”