Steve Bannon, a former top White House adviser to Donald Trump, recently told the House panel investigating the Capitol riot that he would be willing to testify since Trump now says he will not cite the privilege of the executive.
In a letter to the committee on Saturday, obtained by ABC News, Bannon said he would prefer to testify at a live public hearing after the former president sent him a separate letter on Saturday — also obtained by ABC — waiving objections. .
The House committee and federal prosecutors who sought to speak to Bannon said claims of executive privilege had never covered him, since the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising, long after Bannon left his post as strategist. chief of the White House in 2017.
Bannon previously defied a committee subpoena and is awaiting trial for criminal contempt.
His lawyer wrote on his behalf in the letter this weekend that “circumstances have now changed”.
“President Trump has determined that it would be in the interests of the American people to waive executive privilege for Stephen K. Bannon, to allow Mr. Bannon to comply with the subpoena issued by your committee. Mr. Bannon is willing to, and indeed prefer to testify in your open court,” wrote attorney Bob Costello. “Mr. Bannon is prepared to testify at your public hearing, and prefers to do so.”
It is unclear whether Bannon also plans to comply with the committee’s request for documents, which accompanied his subpoena.
In Trump’s letter to Bannon, Trump reiterated his criticism 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 claimed executive privilege. However, I saw how unfairly you and others were treated, having to spend huge sums of money on legal fees and all the trauma you have to go through love of your country and out of respect for the president’s office,” Trump wrote. “Therefore, if you come to an agreement on a time and place for your testimony, I will waive executive privilege for you, which allows you to come in and testify honestly and fairly…”
The letters were first reported by The Guardian.
Speaking on CNN on Sunday morning, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Jan. 6 panel member, suggested the panel had yet to consider overthrowing Bannon, but hinted that public testimony might be unlikely. “It’s been going on for hours after hours. We want all of our questions answered, and you can’t do that live,” Lofgren told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
The panel has typically held private depositions with witnesses before they eventually testify live in a courtroom – or excerpts of their depositions are played to the public.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, another committee member, was asked by ABC’s “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos on Sunday about Bannon’s possible testimony. Kinzinger said that “at a high level, anyone who wants to come in, who knows information to speak to the select committee, we invite them to do so.”
“We’re inviting them to do it under oath. And we all know the story with our requests to have spoken to Steve Bannon. So we’ll see how that goes,” Kinzinger said.
After defying a subpoena on Jan. 6 last year, Bannon was charged with two counts of criminal contempt of Congress, though he argued Trump’s claim of privilege protected him.
He has pleaded not guilty and is expected to be tried next week.
Bannon remained an outside adviser to Trump after helping run 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 results of the 2020 presidential election, the committee said Jan. 6 in a 2021 letter to Bannon along with his subpoena.
He reportedly said, “Hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” the panel wrote in that letter, quoting from a January 5, 2021 episode of his “War Room” podcast.
Katherine Faulders and Benjamin Siegel of ABC News contributed to this report.