Decision from former president would clear way for one-time adviser to testify before committee investigating Capitol attack
is considering waiving executive privilege for his longtime political adviser Steve Bannon, which would clear the way for a key ally of the former president to testify before the congressional committee investigating the deadly January 6 attack on the Capitol.
Trump is reportedly considering sending a letter to Bannon, his former White House strategist, acknowledging that he granted Bannon executive privilege on 21 September but is now willing to give up the claim if Bannon reaches an agreement to testify before the House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, the Washington Post first reported, citing sources familiar with the situation.
According to the Post, some of Trump’s advisers have warned him not to send the letter, but the ex-president may be bullish on getting a witness who is ostensibly friendlier to him to appear at one of the committee’s televised hearings.
Bannon was charged with two counts of criminal contempt of Congress in November after defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Capitol riots. Bannon has pleaded not guilty.
If convicted, Bannon could face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. His trial is expected to start later this month, reported CNN.
Bannon has claimed that discussions between Trump and him are protected under the dictum of executive privilege. But prosecutors say Bannon is not protected because he was not working at the White House on the day of the Capitol attack.
The committee has also said that Bannon’s executive privilege claims do not mean he can simply ignore the subpoena outright, but he could cite the privilege in response to certain questions.
“Even if your client had been a senior aide to [Trump] during the time period covered by the contemplated testimony, which he was most assuredly not, he is not permitted by law to the type of immunity you suggest that Mr. Trump has requested he assert,” committee chair Bennie Thompson wrote to Bannon’s attorney in October.
Federal prosecutors have not brought contempt charges against other Trump aides who ignored subpoenas while citing executive privilege, including former White house chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Even after leaving his position in the White House, Bannon remained an outspoken proponent of the falsehood that electoral fraudsters stole the 2020 presidential race against Joe Biden
The committee has staged numerous public hearings airing evidence that the lie helped inspire the attack on the Capitol, to which a bipartisan Senate report linked seven deaths.