It’s difficult not to engage in a massive amount of schadenfreude when considering the current situation that former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon now finds himself in.
Exiled from the White House after the political blow-back over President Trump’s “very fine people on both sides” comment after the neo-Nazi riot in Charlottesville, Virginia last year, a line that was ascribed to his influence, the white nationalist supporter Bannon now finds himself with his influence diminished to the point where he can barely attract enough people to hear him speak to fill a rec room at a Holiday Inn Express.
Today, it was revealed that Bannon may be facing much bigger problems than a failure to attract the same types of crowds that he once commanded. According to Reuters, the former Trump confidante is now the subject of a “wide-ranging investigation” by the Senate Intelligence Committee over his activities during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Reuters says that it has been told by three sources with knowledge of the probe that committee wants to know exactly what Bannon has to say about his understanding of the contacts between the Kremlin and two Trump campaign advisors who have already admitted to meeting with Russian agents: Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
Papadopoulos has already pled guilty to lying to FBI agents about his Russian contacts and was sentenced to 14 days in prison last month for the offense. Page has avoided indictment so far, but with the Mueller investigation still active, there is no guarantee that he is out of the woods.
The Senate Intelligence Committee also wants to question Bannon about his activities with Cambridge Analytica, the data analysis company founded by Bannon and conservative oligarch Robert Mercer that was hired by the Trump campaign to help identify and target messages to potentially sympathetic voters and that surreptitiously accessed the data from 87 million Facebook users to help them in that targeting.
Bannon is reportedly set to be interviewed by the committee in late November, but just last week he was sitting with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team being asked about fellow Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone, who is being investigated over his possible involvement in Wikileak’s disclosure of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign adviser John Podesta.
With Bannon set to be questioned by the Senate committee, it remains to be seen whether his testimony will provide any new details about the already heavily investigated debacle that was the Trump campaign. However, having thus far escaped indictment by the Mueller team, anything Bannon does say before the committee will surely be of interest to the many other players who are currently subjects in the Trump-Russia investigation. If nothing else, anything that drives up Bannon’s legal costs will help slightly mollify the majority of people who find his nationalist agenda so horridly repugnant.
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Original reporting by Mark Hosenball at Reuters.