Former Trump adviser and campaign manager Steve Bannon has agreed to testify before the House committee investigating last year’s January 6 Capitol attack a week ahead of jury selection for his scheduled contempt of Congress trial.
Bannon long said that he would be willing to testify if ex-President Donald Trump waived his executive privilege, even though he was only on White House staff for a seven-month period that took place three years before the Capitol riots. Trump wrote a letter on Saturday allowing Bannon to participate in the January 6 committee hearings.
“When you first received the Subpoena to testify and provide documents, I invoked Executive Privilege,” Trump wrote. “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.”
“Therefore, if you reach an agreement on a time and place for your testimony, I will waive Executive Privilege for you, which allows you to go in and testify truthfully and fairly,” Trump added.
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Bannon lawyer Bob Costello wrote in a letter that Bannon is now willing to testify, and would prefer to participate in a public hearing.
On Monday morning, the Justice Department contradicted Bannon and Trump’s assertion of executive privilege.
The former president “never invoked executive privilege over any particular information or materials; that the former president’s counsel never asked or was asked to attend the defendant’s deposition before the select committee; that the defendant’s attorney misrepresented to the committee what the former president’s counsel had told the defendant’s attorney; and that the former president’s counsel made clear to the defendant’s attorney that the letter provided no basis for total non-compliance,” according to a new filing that cited an interview conducted by the FBI with Trump attorney Justin Clark.
The Justice Department added that Bannon’s “eleventh-hour efforts” should be disregarded as it is irrelevant to his non-compliance with the committee over the past nine months.
“The criminal contempt statute is not intended to procure compliance; it is intended to punish past non-compliance,” the filing read.
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