Steve Bannon is testifying before the House Intel committee today. Meanwhile, it seems that Fire and Fury, the book by Michael Wolff, may have inspired Special Counsel Robert Mueller to decide it was time to talk with Bannon as well. Today the NY Times reports that after press reports that Bannon had called a Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr. and Russia attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya “treasonous,” Mueller issued a subpoena.

Mr. Mueller issued the subpoena after Mr. Bannon was quoted in a new book criticizing Mr. Trump, saying that Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with Russians was “treasonous” and predicting that the special counsel investigation would ultimately center on money laundering…

Some legal experts said the subpoena could be a sign that the investigation was intensifying, while others said it may simply have been a negotiating tactic to persuade Mr. Bannon to cooperate with the investigation. The experts also said it could be a signal to Mr. Bannon, who has tried to publicly patch up his falling-out with the president, that despite Mr. Trump’s legal threats, Mr. Bannon must be completely forthcoming with investigators…

“By forcing someone to testify through a subpoena, you are providing the witness with cover because they can say, ‘I had no choice — I had to go in and testify about everything I knew,’” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, a prosecutor for the independent counsel that investigated Bill Clinton when he was president…

Mr. Bannon has limited firsthand knowledge about two key issues within Mr. Mueller’s purview — the president’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, a decision made without Mr. Bannon present, and the drafting of a misleading statement about the subject of the June 2016 meeting with Russians, in which they promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

So the picture painted by this story is that Mueller is going after Bannon in a way that is more aggressive than his approach to other Trump figures. The story does say all of this may just be a negotiating tactic designed to put Bannon on his back foot. But ultimately it seems Bannon probably doesn’t know anything about the two issues Mueller is focused on, at least not directly.

The goal seems to be to press Bannon for details about what he heard second-hand and from whom. For instance, why did he tell author Michael Wolff that there was “zero” chance Trump Jr. didn’t bring his Trump Tower guests up to meet his father? Did he hear something about that and if so what was it? Mueller may be looking for additional investigative leads.

I could see Bannon huddling and trading water-cooler talk with other people he worked closely with. Does that mean he has any verifiable knowledge of these events? Not necessarily. This seems like a bit of a fishing expedition to me which seems odd so many months into this investigation. It looks as if Mueller read the stories about Fire and Fury and decided ‘let’s see what he can tell us,’ almost spur of the moment without any clear investigative strategy. Maybe that’s not the case but for now, it looks that way.