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Steve Bannon says he’s willing to testify before Jan. 6 commission after Trump waives claims of executive privilege

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CNN

Steve Bannon — who defied a congressional subpoena and will appear in court on contempt charges — told the House selection committee investigating the January 6, 2021 uprising on Saturday that he is now prepared to testify, ideally during a public hearing. hearing, according to a letter from CNN.

Bannon’s turnaround comes after he received a letter from former President Donald Trump waiving executive privilege, though both the House Selection Committee and federal prosecutors allege the privilege claim never gave Bannon carte blanche to sue. of Congress in the first place.

“When you first received the subpoena to testify and provide documents, I invoked Executive Privilege. However, I have seen how unfairly you and others have been treated, having to spend huge amounts of money on legal fees, and all the trauma you have to go through out of love for your country, and out of respect for the Office of the President,” Trump wrote in a statement on Saturday. a letter to Bannon, which was also obtained by CNN.

“Therefore, if you agree on a time and place for your testimony, I will waive the Executive Privilege for you, which will allow you to go in and testify truthfully and honestly,” Trump added, continuing. rejecting the commission of “Criminals and Hacks.”

Bannon was charged last year with two counts of criminal contempt for Congress. He has argued that he was free to ignore his subpoena from Congress to protect Trump’s potential claims to privilege. But federal prosecutors and other legal experts have argued that the privilege doesn’t apply to Bannon — who left his tenure as chief strategist in the White House years before the Capitol riots — and didn’t give him the power to deny documents or testimony to to provide the committee.

Bannon’s team delivered Trump’s new letter to the committee on Jan. 6 overnight, along with a letter from Bannon’s attorney Bob Costello.

“While Mr. Bannon was steadfast in his beliefs, circumstances have now changed,” Costello wrote. “Mr. Bannon is willing, and even prefers, to testify at your public hearing.

The Jan. 6 commission was interested in talking to Bannon about his communications with Trump in December 2020, when Bannon reportedly urged him to focus on certifying the Jan. 6 presidential election. The committee members were also interested in Bannon’s comments in the run-up to the Capitol uprising, including a podcast on January 5 in which he predicted, “Tomorrow all hell will break loose.”

Bannon, who has pleaded not guilty to his contempt charges, is set to appear in court on July 18. Giving testimony wouldn’t necessarily acquit him of the charges of criminal contempt, so it’s unclear how his upcoming trial will be affected if Bannon negotiates with the commission to testify. He is due to appear in court on Monday for a hearing in his case.

A spokesperson for the commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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