Stephen Bannon, who was ousted as White House chief strategist last summer but has remained in touch with President Trump’s circle, is pitching a plan to cripple the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. There is no indication so far that the president agrees.
Stephen Bannon, who was ousted as White House chief strategist last summer but has remained in touch with President Trump’s circle, is pitching a plan to cripple the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Washington Post reports. His first step would be for Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the work of special counsel Robert Mueller and signed off on a search warrant of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Bannon also recommends that the White House cease its cooperation with Mueller, reversing the policy of Trump’s legal team to provide information to the special counsel’s team and to allow staff members to sit for interviews.
Bannon contends that the president should protect himself from the investigation by asserting executive privilege and arguing arguing that Mueller’s interviews with White House officials over the past year should now be null and void. “The president wasn’t fully briefed by his lawyers on the implications” of not invoking executive privilege, Bannon said. “It was a strategic mistake to turn over everything without due process, and executive privilege should be exerted immediately and retroactively.” There is no indication that Trump, who forced out Bannon and later said his former adviser had “lost his mind,” would be willing to take Bannon’s advice. “If you say his name in front of the president, it’s not a pretty sight,” said a senior administration official. “The president really goes off about him.” Nonetheless, Bannon’s efforts signify the growing pressure from an influential wing of Trump’s political base to thwart Mueller.