Steve Bannon, a former top White House adviser to Donald Trump, recently told a House panel that Capitol troublemakers were investigating that he was willing to testify because Trump now says he won’t talk about executive privilege. In a letter to the commission obtained by zlafilms News on Saturday, Bannon said he would prefer to testify in a live public hearing after the former president sent him another letter on Saturday — also received by zlafilms — rejecting the objections. A House committee and federal prosecutors seeking to speak with Bannon say the claims of executive privilege never applied to him, as of Jan. 6, 2021, long after Bannon resigned as White House chief strategist in 2017.
Bannon previously defied a subpoena from the committee and is awaiting trial on criminal contempt charges.
His attorney wrote on his behalf in the letter this weekend that “circumstances have now changed.”
“President Trump has decided that it is in the best interest of the American people to waive executive privileges to Stephen K. Bannon and allow Mr. Bannon to participate in a subpoena issued by your committee. Bannon is prepared and strongly prefers to testify before your public hearing,” the lawyer wrote Bob Costello. It is unclear whether Bannon also intends to comply with the committee’s request for documents accompanying his subpoena.
In Trump’s letter to Bannon, Trump reiterated his criticisms of the House committee and wrote that he felt his former aide — now a right-wing commentator — had been treated “unfairly.”
“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. “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…”
Talk to zlafilms on Sunday morning, January 6. Zoe Lofgren indicated that the panel had not yet considered Bannon’s change, but explained that public testimony may not be possible. “It’s hour by hour. We want to answer all of our questions, and you can’t do that in a live format,” Lofgren told zlafilms Jake Tapper.
The jury usually holds witnesses in private bail before they testify live in the courtroom — or clips of their testimony are shown to the public beforehand. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, another commissioner, was asked Sunday by zlafilms “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos about Bannon’s possible testimony. Kinzinger said that “at a high level, anyone who wants to come in who knows the information to speak to the select committee is welcome to do so.” “We welcome them to do so under oath. And we all know the history with our requests to speak to Steve Bannon.” So we’ll see how it goes,” Kinzinger said.
After defying a Jan. 6 subpoena last year, Bannon was charged with two counts of criminal contempt of Congress, though he argued Trump’s privilege claim protected him.
He pleaded not guilty and is set to go to trial next week.
Bannon remained an outside adviser to Trump after helping to lead his first presidential campaign and a short stint in the White House. He was at a meeting at the Willard Hotel where lawmakers were encouraged to challenge the 2020 presidential election results, the Jan. 6 committee claimed in a 2021 letter to Bannon along with his subpoena.
He was quoted as saying, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” the panel wrote in that letter, citing a Jan. 5, 2021, episode of his podcast “War Room.”