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Steve Bannon Is Back with Plan to End Russia Investigation
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12 Apr 2018 02:00 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff Writer; Image: Steve Bannon (Image Source: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

 

If you thought you'd heard the last of Steve Bannon, you'd be wrong. The one-time White House chief strategist is still at it, still strategizing. He's come up with what he thinks is a great plan to end the special counsel investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Four insiders have said that the former executive chairman of Breitbart News is still in touch with those close to Donald Trump, and he's laid out his plan to aides in the West Wing as well as congressional allies. 

The first step in Bannon's strategy is for the President to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. This isn't something new, though, as the idea has been floated elsewhere this week to dismiss Rosenstein who's behind the search warrant of Michael Cohen's office and other locations and who oversees Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

He is also suggesting that the White House stop cooperating with Mueller. While Trump has waffled over speaking with the special counsel, several members of his staff, including Cohen, have sat for interviews, and it's only led to indictments.

The next step in Bannon's plan, as told to those both inside and outside the current administration, is that Trump should launch a new strategy to protect himself. He should claim executive privilege, with the prevailing argument being that the interviews so far given to Mueller's team would be null and void.

It should be noted that Bannon is not an attorney, so it's unknown if there is a legal standing for this strategy. Bannon is an investment banker, film producer, and founding member of Breitbart. He didn't become involved in politics until 2016 when he replaced Paul Manafort in Trump's campaign. Additionally, he himself has been interviewed by Mueller's team.

"The President wasn't fully briefed by his lawyers on the implications" of not invoking executive privilege," he told The Washington Post on Wednesday. "It was a strategic mistake to turn over everything without due process, and executive privilege should be exerted immediately and retroactively."

Bannon was forced out of the White House after Trump said he'd "lost this mind," so it's possible that no one will listen to his advice that isn't necessarily that novel. Aides are leery of allowing him back inside.

"If you say his name in front of the President, it's not a pretty sight," explained a senior administration official, according to The Washington Post. "The President really goes off about him."

But he's just one of many who are suggesting the same thing, that Trump do something to stop the investigation from rolling along and causing more and more damage.

Some in Congress are trying to take legislative action against Rosenstein and other Justice officials. Because of the disclosure of documents from the investigation, they believe it could lead Trump to shift the investigation to lawmakers instead of on himself and the administration.

Bannon and others believe Trump just needs to be pushed a little into firing Rosenstein. Trump has reportedly told some in his inner circle he's willing to lodge internal war to protect his presidency.

But Bannon is somewhat of a persona non grata in the White House. Trump's legal team accused him of breaking a confidentiality agreement because of some of his comments that appeared in Michael Wolff's book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House."

He hasn't directly approached Trump with this plan, in part probably because of his unfavorable status with him, but also because it could raise more questions for him to insert himself back into Trump's circle again since he's a central figure in the campaign and has already been interviewed.

And still, it's not a foolproof plan according to some. It may just create other difficulties for Trump's administration. Donald McGahn, White House counsel, is said to be worried about the possibility of firing Rosenstein or Mueller. He's threatened to leave if the past if Mueller was fired and would probably do the same if Rosenstein was fired. So there's a concern about even more resignations.

Again, Bannon isn't an attorney, and even legal experts are unsure if Trump at this point could claim executive privilege retroactively, as the interviews were given voluntarily. Bannon thinks Trump could clear that hurdle by claiming he had poor counsel from Ty Cobb and other attorneys regarding the investigation.

 

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