The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee asked federal prosecutors to investigate Steve Bannon, a former strategist for President Donald Trump, for possibly lying to lawmakers during a probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The committee sent a letter, signed by Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr and ranking Democrat Sen. Mark Warner, to the Justice Department requesting the investigation of Bannon, who ran Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. The letter was read by editors at The Los Angeles Times.
“As you are aware, the Committee is conducting an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election,” the letter states, according to The Times. “As part of that inquiry, and as a result of witness interviews and document production, we now have reason to believe that the following individuals may have committed a criminal act.”
The news of the letter arrives as the committee is nearing the release of its final report of its investigation into Russian election meddling.
The letter said Bannon may have lied during testimony about what he knew about a meeting that involved Kirill Dmitriev, who runs a Russian sovereign fund. Dmitriev reportedly met with private security contractor Erik Prince and hedge fund manager Rick Gerson in the Seychelles islands.
The meeting was heavily scrutinized before Trump's inauguration.
The committee also thinks Prince may have also lied about his conversations with Dmitriev.
No charges were filed against anyone who attended that meeting. Still, investigators thought the attendees were trying to secretly connect the Trump administration with Moscow prior to the then-president-elect taking office.
The letter doesn't say what committee members suspected Bannon or Prince of lying about, but he and Prince have allegedly told conflicting accounts of the meeting.
Other people the letter accuses of lying during testimony are Donald Trump Jr., the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.
The letter was reportedly sent to the Justice Department on July 19, 2019, but it isn't clear how the agency responded to it.
After he returned to the United States, Prince said he told Bannon about his conversations at the meeting. But Bannon denies that discussion ever happened, according to the special counsel’s office.
“It’s impossible to respond to something I’ve never heard about before,” William Burck, a lawyer for Bannon, told The Times.
Schwartz added, “There is nothing new for the Department of Justice to consider, nor is there any reason to question the Special Counsel’s decision to credit Mr. Prince and rely on him in drafting its report.”
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