FBI agents showed up at Steve Bannon’s Washington home last week intent on serving him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury investigating possible ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.
The agents were unaware at the time that Bannon had retained Washington lawyer William Burck just hours earlier, according to two people familiar with the events that took place on Jan. 9. Once redirected, the agents sent the order to Burck, who is also representing two other witnesses in the probe being led by special counsel Robert Mueller, a former director of the FBI.
Bannon, who served as Trump’s chief strategist until he departed the White House in August, could end up being interviewed by Mueller’s team before the end of the month, according to one source who agreed to discuss the matter on the condition of anonymity.
The subpoena compels Bannon to testify before a grand jury, skipping the voluntary interview with Mueller’s team that many in Trump’s orbit have elected to take. But Mueller may still leave open the option for an interview in lieu of grand jury testimony. Bannon is likely to accept such an interview if it is made available, according to a source close to Bannon.
Three people familiar with the special counsel’s investigation suggested Mueller moved to subpoena Bannon, rather than ask him to voluntarily appear for questioning, in order to thwart any potential attempt by the White House to pressure Bannon into refusing to cooperate.
Bannon revealed he’d been subpoenaed by the grand jury when he met with lawmakers Tuesday behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, where he was questioned for more than 10 hours.
During the course of questioning, Bannon told members of the House Intelligence Committee that the White House had instructed him not to answer questions related to his tenure in the administration and the transition period, citing a desire to exert executive privilege. The committee responded by issuing a separate subpoena to compel his responses to lawmakers.
Bannon is expected to be more forthcoming with Mueller’s team. “He’ll answer any questions” Mueller wants to ask, one source close to Bannon told NBC News.