February 2, 2020 / by emptywheel

 

Steve Bannon’s Grand Jury Secrets

In preparation for several other posts, I want to follow up on this post — Steve Bannon’s 302 of Laughter and Forgetting — and lay out what we know of Bannon’s other testimony to Mueller.

I said in that post there are four known Bannon interviews.

  • February 12, 2018 (26 pages)
  • February 14, 2018 (37 pages)
  • October 26, 2018 (16 pages; the interview list lists three different interviews, but they are likely just copies of the same one)
  • January 18, 2019 (4 pages)

But that’s not right. Bannon was asked by Stone lawyer Robert Buschel in cross-examination at the Roger Stone trial whether he had “sat down with” prosecutors recently.

Q. You just gave an interview in preparation for your testimony today, right, with the government, with the Department of Justice?

A. What do you mean, an interview?

Q. Did you sit down with them recently?

A. Yes.

So one of the six 302s that post-date the end of the Mueller investigation must be from Bannon (at least two are presumably Randy Credico, there were two other non-governmental witnesses who testified, Rick Gates and Margaret Kunstler, and Andrew Miller was flown into DC to testify but did not ultimately do so).

The government got Amy Berman Jackson to approve the partial redaction of the grand jury transcript of one witness on August 26, 2019. That may well be Bannon (in which case his interview must have been on July 26, 2019), because as I’ll explain, prosecutors had to use his grand jury testimony to get him to adhere to his previously sworn testimony.

Before I get there, consider that the government is still withholding Bannon’s first interview report, from February 12, 2018 (I suspect, based on the unredacted content of the February 14, 2018 one, that that first one focuses on Trump’s obstruction). As I laid out in my “Laughter and Forgetting” post, Bannon clearly shaded the truth significantly in his February 14 one.

On October 26, 2018, we know Bannon admitted to details about the WikiLeaks dump that he hadn’t before, most notably an October 4, 2016 email from his non-campaign “arc-ent” email (which he described in his February 14 testimony) asking Stone why Assange hadn’t released emails as promised that day, because in the week after his testimony he and Stone floated competing half-truths and lies on the pages of the WaPo, NYT, and DailyCaller.

But Bannon likely still didn’t tell the full truth on October 26, because on his next known interview, January 18, 2019 (so just days before Stone’s arrest), he signed a proffer with Mueller covering that day’s interview and an appearance the same day before the grand jury. The government has released the proffer but not the actual interview. That means that, apparently for the first time in hours and hours of testimony, Bannon’s competent lawyers either expressed concern about his legal exposure or that he had lied in a past interview and Mueller was using that to finally get the truth out of him.

There were two topics in Bannon’s testimony that prosecutor Michael Marando used to get Bannon to adhere to the sworn testimony he was willing to give in a secret grand jury. First (though it came second in his testimony), that he regarded Stone as the campaign’s access point to WikiLeaks.

Q. While you were CEO of the Trump campaign, who, if anyone, was the campaign’s access point to WikiLeaks?

A. The campaign’s access point?

Q. Yes.

A. I don’t think we had one.

Q. I want to refer back to Government’s Exhibit 209 that’s in front of you. This is the same grand jury transcript that I showed you before, correct? Am I correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay, this is your testimony in the grand jury. This was the Robert Mueller grand jury, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, I want you to turn to page 14, line 4. I’m going to read line 4 through 8 on page 14. And you’re asked, “And just within the campaign, who was the access point to WikiLeaks?”

And you responded, “I think it was generally believed that the access point or potential access point to WikiLeaks and to Julian Assange would be Roger Stone.”

Did I read that correctly?

A. That’s correct.

Q. And did you, at that time, did you personally believe or you personally view Roger Stone as the access point between Trump campaign and WikiLeaks?

A. Yes.

This what the testimony where Buschel described Bannon reversing his prior testimony in his more recent interview.

Q. And did they ask you that precise question, whether you thought Roger Stone was an access point to WikiLeaks?

A. I think they asked me the exact question they just asked me a few minutes ago.

Q. And you gave a different answer than you just gave right now, didn’t you? You said that Roger Stone — you and the Trump campaign did not view Mr. Stone as an access point between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.

A. The campaign had no — had no official access to WikiLeaks or to Julian Assange, but Roger would be considered, if we needed an access point, an access point because he had implied or told me that he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

In addition, Bannon had to be forced to adhere to his grand jury testimony describing that Stone had boasted of his relationship with Julian Assange going back months before Bannon joined the campaign on August 14, 2016.

Q. Does that date sound like the time that — I’m sorry. January 18th, 2019. My apologies. Did you testify on January 18th, 2019?

A. I have no idea.

Q. Does that sound correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, there were prosecutors that were present there, correct?

A. They were, yes.

Q. Andrew Goldstein, does that sound correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And you were the witness that was there, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. There was a court reporter that was taking down everything you said, correct?

A. That’s correct.

Q. And there were grand jurors there; isn’t that right?

A. That’s correct.

Q. You took an oath — the defendant, Mr. Stone, was not there; is that right?

A. That’s correct.

Q. You took an oath to tell the truth; isn’t that right?

A. That’s correct.

Q. And the prosecutor asked you a number of questions; isn’t that right?

A. That’s correct.

Q. But before he asked you any questions, he advised you of your rights as a witness; is that correct?

A. That’s correct.

Q. All right. And he told you that if you failed to tell the truth before the grand jury, you could be charged with perjury; isn’t that right?

A. That’s correct.

Q. And you told the grand jury that you understood that right; isn’t that correct?

A. That’s correct.

Q. I want to turn to page 7, if you can. Let me know when you’re on page 7.

A. I’m at page 7.

Q. Line 15?

A. Yes.

Q. So you were asked at page 7, line 15, “And when you had private conversations with him about his connection to Julian Assange, approximately how far in advance of your joining the campaign did that conversation take place?”

And you responded, “Oh, I think the first time it was months before, but I think it all the way led up to right before I joined the campaign. It was something he would, I think, frequently mention or talk about when we talked about other things.”

Did I read that correctly?

A. That’s correct.

Q. All right. Now, in any of your conversations with Mr. Stone, did he ever brag to you about his connections to Assange?

A. I wouldn’t call it bragging, but maybe boasting, I guess the difference between bragging and boasting, but he would mention it.

Q. What do you mean by “boast”?

A. That he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

As noted, one witness — and Bannon is the only witness who had to be steered using a grand jury transcript — had selected bits of his grand jury released to Stone (though Amy Berman Jackson ultimately did not let prosecutors send the transcript to the grand jury).

That suggests there are other parts of that grand jury transcript in which he admitted to things he has otherwise tried to shade.

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Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/2020/02/02/steve-bannons-grand-jury-secrets/