Bannon to testify before Congress on Russian interference in 2016 election
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Bannon to testify before Congress on Russian interference in 2016 election

Session before House committee will reportedly focus on former Trump ally's time on the campaign

In this September 25, 2017 photo, former presidential strategist Steve Bannon speaks at a rally for US Senate hopeful Roy Moore, in Fairhope, Alabama (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
In this September 25, 2017 photo, former presidential strategist Steve Bannon speaks at a rally for US Senate hopeful Roy Moore, in Fairhope, Alabama (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon will testify next week before a congressional panel looking into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections, Reuters reported Thursday.

The session will reportedly focus on Bannon’s involvement during the campaign period.

Bannon stepped down as chairman of the Breitbart News Network Wednesday after a public break with President Donald Trump.

Breitbart announced Tuesday that Bannon would step down as executive chairman of the conservative news site, less than a week after Bannon’s explosive criticisms of Trump and his family were published in a new book.

Trump lashed out at Bannon for comments made in Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which questions the president’s fitness for office. In the book, Bannon is quoted as saying a pre-election meeting involving Trump’s eldest son Donald Jr. and a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer was “treasonous.”

US President Donald Trump walks to Marine One before leaving the White House on January 5, 2018. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

As Trump aides called him disloyal and disgraceful, the president branded his former chief strategist on Twitter as “Sloppy Steve,” an apparent reference to Bannon’s often unkempt appearance, and declared that “he lost his mind” when he was pushed out of the White House last August.

The president was livid about Bannon’s remarks — not just at the insults about his family, but also at his former strategist’s apparent intent to take credit for Trump’s election victory and political movement, according to a White House official and two outside advisers not authorized to speak publicly about internal conversations.

After days of silence amid withering criticism from his former colleagues and his largest benefactor, Bannon tried to make amends. He issued a statement Sunday praising the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., whom he was quoted accusing of treasonous behavior in the book. Bannon did not apologize for his criticism of the president’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, with whom he had squabbled inside the West Wing.

Trump himself said Wednesday that it “seems unlikely” that he’d give an interview in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (2nd L) leaves after a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images via JTA)

Trump said “we’ll see what happens” when asked if he’d provide an interview to Mueller’s team.

“When they have no collusion and nobody’s found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you’d even have an interview,” Trump said.

The special counsel’s team of investigators has expressed interest in speaking with Trump, but no details have been worked out. Trump’s lawyers have previously stated their determination to cooperate with requests in the probe, which has already resulted in charges against four of Trump’s campaign advisers.

In a separate tweet Wednesday morning, Trump accused Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of being “underhanded and a disgrace” for disclosing details of a dossier of allegations about his ties to Russia during the presidential campaign.

A day earlier, Feinstein, who faces a primary challenge in her re-election this year, released the transcript of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s closed-door August interview with an official from the political opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the dossier. She released the transcript of Glenn Simpson’s interview over the objections of the committee’s Republican chairman, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley. She is the top Democrat on the panel.

Feinstein also sits on the Senate intelligence committee, which is conducting its own investigation into the Russian interference and whether Trump’s campaign was in any way involved.

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