Rep. Adam Schiff has had enough of Stephen Bannon's "stonewalling," the California Democrat told reporters Thursday. Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that Bannon kept mostly mum during his closed-door testimony with the committee Thursday, to the point that Congress may have no choice but "to initiate contempt proceedings" against him.
Bannon was called to testify before the committee as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Schiff would be angling to use contempt charges to try to force Bannon to be more forthcoming in answering questions.
Schiff contended that Bannon repeatedly improperly invoked executive privilege, which allows the president to decline to answer questions from Congress or courts. Bannon and other administration officials have claimed executive privilege during hearings somewhat circuitously, saying they did not want to preempt President Trump's right to invoke executive privilege to withhold the information they were being asked about.
Schiff claimed Bannon invoked executive privilege to avoid answering questions not only about his time working in the White House, but also about events that occurred during the presidential transition, when Trump was president-elect but not president. Additionally, Schiff said, Bannon showed up Thursday with a list of questions he would answer — questions that Schiff said were "literally scripted by the White House."
"I think there is only one course that is open to us, and that is the course of seeking contempt," Schiff said. Watch his remarks below. Kelly O'Meara Morales