In a strange turn of events, it seems that Democrats and Republicans now share a firm, mutual dislike for former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
Bannon was subpoenaed and instructed to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee about the ongoing Russia investigation on Wednesday, but according to Politico, he refused to answer questions and tried to dismiss the investigation as an effort to delegitimize Donald Trump’s presidency.
Bannon said his silence was in compliance with a White House claim of executive privilege, which shields White House communications from legislative branch scrutiny.
Congressional Republicans, of course, had every reason to dislike Bannon in private before, especially after Bannon publicly declared his hatred for many of them, calling them part of the “deep state,” but now it seems that Republicans are willing to publicly denounce him.
In regards to Republicans’ frustration with Bannon’s silence and confirming their previous distaste for Bannon, Republican representative from New York and member of House Intelligence Committee Peter King said, ”“I have contempt for Bannon anyway.” On Fox News on Wednesday night, Republication representative from South Carolina Trey Gowdy said that Bannon invoked a version of executive privilege “that doesn’t exist and that no one’s ever heard of before.”
The showdown with Congress contrasts with Bannon’s reported plan to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, who issued a grand jury subpoena to compel Bannon’s testimony earlier this week.
Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, the leading Republican on the House Russia probe, said he wouldn’t discuss whether he might seek a contempt citation for Bannon, but he noted the subpoena on Bannon “is still in place.”
“We are working to get Mr. Bannon back to answer our questions,” he said. When asked whether he believes the White House is interfering with the House investigation, Conaway sidestepped the question.
One of the most peculiar outcomes of this event is that it seems to have ignited an alliance between House Intelligence Committee Republicans and Democrats, who previously and relentlessly argued about the merits and motivations behind the Russia probe. While this alliance may only be brief, we may want to savor this fleeting, wholesome moment of bipartisanship, as it seems like an increasingly rare occurrence since Trump was elected.