Steve Bannon and Donald Trump made a brilliant move in their dealings with the Jan. 6 House Select Committee.
The bipartisan anti-Trump committee has been after Bannon’s testimony almost immediately after their formation, but up until this point, the former White House adviser has wholly refused.
However, after a meeting between Bannon and Trump’s legal team, the Former President agreed to waive executive privilege. But here’s where it gets good.
Not only has Bannon agreed to testify after Trump waived executive privilege, but he demands to do so during one of the Jan. 6 Committee’s primetime show trials, according to a letter written by Bob Costello, Bannon’s attorney.
This creates a precarious situation for the committee. On one hand, they have desperately sought out Bannon’s testimony since their investigation began, but, on the other hand, his public testimony could present a problem as the White House adviser remains solidly in Trump’s corner. The committee has already faced several setbacks due to uncorroborated evidence and blatantly false testimony, so any further embarrassments would likely destroy the investigation altogether.
Bannon, who is set to go on trial for criminal contempt charges later this month for defying a prior subpoena by the committee, but it’s still not known how his change of heart will affect those charges.
“While Mr. Bannon has been steadfast in his convictions, circumstances have now changed,” Costello wrote. “Mr. Bannon is willing to, and indeed prefers, to testify at your public hearing.”
In a letter to Bannon on Saturday, Trump said that he was waiving executive privilege after seeing “how unfairly you and others have been treated.”
“When you first received the Subpoena to testify and provide documents, I invoked Executive Privilege. However, I watched how unfairly you and others have been treated, having to spend vast amounts of money on legal fees, and all of the trauma you must be going through for the love of your Country, and out of respect for the Office of the President,” Trump wrote, according to the outlet.
NEW: Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon has opened discussions about appearing before the Jan. 6 committee, after the former president said in a letter dated Saturday that he would waive executive privilege over his testimony — story coming @GuardianUS pic.twitter.com/nLuJue5jye
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) July 10, 2022
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat member of the committee, acknowledged that the panel had received the letter from Bannon’s lawyer around midnight but said the committee hasn’t had “the chance to discuss it.”
Lofgren did, however, indicate that the committee would likely seek a private deposition.
Justice Dept court filing overnight in Steve Bannon case:
"Defendant's last minute efforts to testify, almost 9 months after his default—he's still made no effort to
produce records—are irrelevant to whether he willfully refused to comply in Oct. 2021 w/ .. Committee’s subpoena" pic.twitter.com/eqZXfA0gRb
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) July 11, 2022
Bannon is facing two contempt of Congress charges for failing to comply with a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 committee last year after insisting that Trump’s executive privilege claim barred him from complying. Federal prosecutors have disputed the argument, citing that Bannon was not a member of the Trump administration at the time of the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.
Bannon’s trial is slated to begin on July 18.
Author: Elizabeth Tierney