Stephen K. Bannon, the pugnacious former White House chief strategist and former executive chairman of Breitbart News, blasted establishment Republicans in Congress for going along with Democrats’ efforts to “nullify” the election, according to a report.
During a closed-door interview with the House intelligence committee on Tuesday, Bannon said the Russia probes launched in Congress last year were part of an “establishment” plan to try to nullify the 2016 election, according to Axios.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who was leading the questioning for Republicans on the committee, challenged Bannon, asking whom he meant in particular. Bannon reportedly named House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY).
The report said:
“Bannon attacked the Republicans running these congressional committees for choosing to investigate the Trump campaign and Russia. He said it was part of an “establishment” plan to try to “nullify” the election result. Gowdy challenged him on that, asking Bannon who is this establishment you refer to who is trying to nullify Trump’s victory? Bannon answered: Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.
After media allegations of Russian meddling and collusion in the elections and public pressure, three congressional committees launched probes into the matter early last year: the Senate intelligence, Senate Judiciary, and House intelligence committees.
Senate Judiciary and House intelligence committee Chairmen, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Devin Nunes (R-CA) respectively, have both poked holes in the collusion theory, but Democrats have fought against winding them down.
Bannon also reportedly praised committee members for professionalism and preparedness, but a source familiar with Bannon’s thinking told Axios that the comment was “tongue-in-cheek.”
Bannon was called in for an interview by the committee on Tuesday, but things got contentious when he would not answer questions about the Trump transition period and the Trump administration.
The White House had instructed Bannon to only answer questions about the campaign — the period being examined by the committee for Russian meddling and collusion.
Bannon’s compliance with the White House’s instructions infuriated Gowdy and other members of the committee, who got House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to sign off on two subpoenas, hoping they would compel Bannon to talk and produce documents.
However, even after the subpoena, Bannon would not comply, prompting the committee to request he reappear before them on Thursday.
Bannon spoke to the committee for 10.5 hours on Tuesday.