Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former strategist involved in the former president’s attempts to invalidate his defeat in the 2020 election, has opened talks with the House select committee on Jan. 6 about testifying to the investigation. to the attack on the Capitol.
The collaboration offer could be a breakthrough for the panel, which has been seeking Bannon’s testimony for months, believing it could provide a unique insight into the inner workings of Trump’s illegitimate push to get congressional certification of his loss to Joe. Biden to stop.
Bannon indicated in an email to the select committee, first obtained by the Guardian, that he was willing to initiate discussions about a time and place for an interview after Trump said in a letter he would renounce. of administrative law if he would agree to testify.
The email broadly reiterated Bannon’s legal defense that he had previously been unable to comply with a panel subpoena because the former president had claimed in a disputed claim at the time that he had exercised privilege over his testimony.
But with Trump willing to relinquish the administrative law if Bannon and the select committee can reach a settlement, Bannon was in a position to begin negotiations over a possible interview, the email said, citing the former’s letter. president.
The situation with Bannon and administrative law is complex because he’s argued that he doesn’t need to have been a White House employee — he wasn’t before Jan. 6 — to be a close presidential adviser who provides confidential advice and subject to scrutiny. are subject to administrative law.
He has also argued that while the Supreme Court has ruled that the current president’s waiver of executive privilege trumps a former president’s claim, Biden never formally waived Trump’s claim — the selected committee did not believe Trump claimed this in the first place.
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union address on Sunday, Jan. 6, committee member and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren said she expected the panel to schedule an interview with Bannon.
“I expect we’ll hear from him again,” Lofgren said. “And there are a lot of questions we have for him.”
The email specifically stated that Bannon was willing to testify at a public hearing. It did not say whether Bannon agreed to appear first or ever at a closed-door interview, or whether he would submit documents in addition to testifying.
Also unclear was the extent of the help Bannon could provide in his testimony, though he witnessed several key moments in the illegal attempt to stop the certification of Biden’s January 6 election victory.
That would mean that, in theory, Bannon could reveal to House investigators about his conversations with Trump ahead of the Capitol attack — Bannon spoke to Trump on the phone the night before — and strategy talks in the Trump war room in the US. Willard hotel in Washington.
Trump’s “war room” in the Willard played a major role in the former president’s push to stop the certification. Bannon was based there in the days before the attack, along with Trump attorneys John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, who are widely seen as the architects of that plan.
Bannon’s offer to testify appears to be a strategic step ahead of his trial for criminal contempt of Congress, which begins July 18, after Justice Department prosecutors charged him with refusal to comply. to the subpoena from the select committee last year.
The move to testify in front of the panel now would not “cure” his contempt as he faces criminal contempt and the charge is for failing to comply with the subpoena in the past, former US attorney Joyce Vance said.
But the email offer to testify could have the effect of bolstering his legal defense that Trump did indeed make a legitimate claim to executive privilege in October 2021 and that he cannot be prosecuted over that appeal, according to his letter. from Saturday.
The offer to testify – and an actual agreement under which he appears before the select committee – could also serve to fend off prosecution to some extent, making it less attractive for the judiciary to prosecute and generally less attractive to judges.
Regardless of what Trump says in his letter now, and by referring Bannon to prosecution, the select committee has maintained that Trump was not claiming executive privileges — and even if he did, it didn’t cover Bannon, who was sitting out of Trump’s White House . before January 6.
The select committee also said Bannon would have to respond to the subpoena in some way, such as referring question-by-question to administrative law and at the very least responding to questions unrelated to Trump.
Bannon became one of two former Trump advisers charged with contempt of Congress by the judiciary. Federal prosecutors also indicted Peter Navarro, but declined to charge former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and deputy chief Dan Scavino.