Report: Trump's ex-aide Bannon strikes deal to avoid grand jury testimony

WASHINGTON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Former White House strategist Steve Bannon has struck a deal to be interviewed by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team rather than appearing before a grand jury, CNN reported on Wednesday, citing sources close to Bannon.

Bannon had been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in Mueller's probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and any ties with President Donald Trump's campaign, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment on the CNN report. A lawyer who represented Bannon in an appearance before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on Tuesday could not be immediately reached.

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US President Donald Trump (L) congratulates Senior Counselor to the President Stephen Bannon during the swearing-in of senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), is joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, as he speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "Very early in the Trump administration, weekends were as busy as weekdays. On Trump's second Saturday the official schedule said he would be making private phone calls to a number of world leaders including Russia's Vladimir Putin. I arrived early and, before sitting down at my desk walked up to Press Secretary Sean Spicer's office. He, too, was just taking his coat off. I gingerly made the suggestion that previous administrations had sometimes allowed photos of such phone calls through the Oval Office windows on the colonnade. To my mild shock, he didn't even think about it twice. "We'll do it!" he said. In truth, I really only expected the Putin call, but we were outside the windows multiple times throughout the day as the calls went on."

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to chief strategist Steve Bannon during a swearing in ceremony for senior staff at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Trump advisers Steve Bannon (L) and Jared Kushner (R) listen as U.S. President Donald Trump meets with members of his Cabinet at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 12, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (C) and campaign CEO Steve Bannon (R) listen to National Park Service Interpretive Park Ranger Caitlin Kostic (2nd R) on a brief visit to Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. October 22, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. President Donald Trump signs a memorandum to security services directing them to defeat the Islamic State in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. Pictured with him are White House senior advisor Steve Bannon (L-R), National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Vice President Mike Pence, Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Trump advisor Steve Bannon (L) watches as US President Donald Trump greets Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla CEO, before a policy and strategy forum with executives in the State Dining Room of the White House February 3, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Senior Advisor Jared Kusher, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump arrive at the start of a meeting with Senate and House legislators, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, February 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers included in the meeting were Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA).

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Bannon was a close adviser during Trump's campaign and in his first months in office, but he was fired from his White House job in August as the president sought to bring more order to his staff operations.

Earlier this month, Trump attacked Bannon for comments he made to the author of a book highly critical of the president and his family. They included scathing remarks about Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, for meeting during the campaign with a Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Mueller is investigating allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 campaign to try to tip the vote in Trump's favor, as well as any potential collusion by Trump's campaign with Moscow. Russia denies any attempt to interfere and Trump has denied any collusion.

According to a person familiar with the arrangement, the attorney who represented Bannon for Tuesday's House appearance, William Burck, is not representing him in connection with Mueller's investigation. The person did not believe Bannon had hired a counsel for that yet.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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