Trump's once favourite aide now central to Russian Federation investigation

President Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon has declined to comply with a subpoena ordering him to answer questions from a House intelligence panel as part of a probe into allegations of Russian interference in the USA election.

Bannon refused to answer questions about his time with Trump's transition team, his tenure in the White House, and even his dealings with Trump since his firing.

The White House has defended its move to instruct Bannon to avoid answering questions about the transition and the administration.

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 Russian Federation.

It is unclear who Mr Burck was communicating with in the White House.

Investigators will also want to know more about why Mr Bannon branded a meeting between key campaign figures - including Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr and Paul Manafort - with a Russian lawyer as "treasonous", according to a controversial new book by journalist Michael Wolff.

A top Democrat has said the White House imposed a "gag order" on Bannon.

A spokeswoman for Bannon did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Most of the 10.5-hour interview focused on periods after the campaign, the sources said. Lewandowski, King said, "answered every conceivable question" related to the time before he left the Trump campaign, in June 2016.

When asked if the committee would hold Bannon in contempt, Schiff said, "If he and the White House persist in refusing to answer relevant, non-privileged questions, then we'll have to pursue whatever legal remedies we have, which would require a court".

The White House on Wednesday refused to say whether it had actually invoked executive privilege, however. He is expected to leave the White House later this month.

The AP report adds the tantalizing nugget that his lawyers were relaying the questions in real time to the White House. Those events include Trump's bombshell decision to fire Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey in May, the administration's inaction after it was informed that former national security adviser Michael Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, and Trump's role in drafting the statement about the meeting. "Now, as a committee, if we follow the practice that we maintained yesterday, we should have subpoenaed him today and compelled answers to those questions".

President Donald Trump has a "very strong and a very probable possibility" of completing his presidency "with no medical issues", his doctor has said.

Schiff said there was "no appetite" among Republicans on the committee to subpoena Lewandowski as they did with Bannon, though.

Mr Bannon was subpoenaed to give evidence in Mr Mueller's investigation, but this may have been a negotiating tactic that prompted Mr Bannon to agree to a sit-down with prosecutors rather than appearing before the grand jury.

The congressional subpoena came the same day The New York Times reported that Bannon, a former far-right media executive and recently scorned Trump adversary, has been served with a grand jury subpoena issued by special counsel Robert Mueller.

  • Rogelio Becker