Trump considers waiving executive privilege claim for Steve Bannon

Former President Donald Trump is considering sending a letter to Stephen K. Bannon saying he is waiving his claim for executive privilege, potentially clearing the way for his former chief strategist to testify before the House Select Committee on investigating the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol. .

The letter would reiterate that Trump invoked executive privilege in September 2021, when Bannon was first subpoenaed by the House committee. But it looks like the former president is now prepared to back down from that claim – the validity of which has been disputed – if Bannon can reach an agreement on the terms of a panel appearance. The letter was described by three people familiar with it, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

Some advisers sought to dissuade Trump from signing the letter.

Bannon was charged with contempt of Congress in November 2021 for refusing to comply with the subpoena. A trial on those charges is due to begin on July 18, although Bannon has sought to delay proceedings.

The committee argued that claims of executive privilege are not valid for Bannon, who was a private citizen at the time of January 6, 2021. The committee also said that Bannon, a strong advocate of false allegations that the election of 2020 was stolen, was required to respond to the subpoena in some way — asserting question-by-question claims of privilege rather than refusing to answer.

“Even if your client had been a senior aide to the president during the period covered by the contemplated testimony, which he certainly was not, he is not permitted by law to have the type of immunity that you are suggesting that Mr. Trump asked. affirm,” President Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote to Bannon’s attorney in October.

The government has declined to bring contempt charges against other former Trump aides who also claimed executive privilege, including former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former adviser Dan Scavino.

A lawyer for Bannon and a spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since the explosive testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Meadows aide, several Republicans have come forward to cooperate with the House select committee and others are expected to continue to come forward, according to people familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

Live and videotaped testimony presented in the committee’s case against Trump has so far painted a detailed picture image of the efforts of the former president to retain power at all costs. Those public hearings could now continue through August and beyond as investigators accumulate more evidence and new testimony, people familiar with the investigation added.

On Friday, former White House attorney Pat Cipollone appeared for an eight-hour closed-door transcribed interview with investigators to discuss his role in trying to thwart Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 elections.

Cipollone may have provided the committee with answers to crucial questions that could corroborate previous testimony or provide new evidence about what he may have witnessed at the White House before Jan. 6 and the day of the attack.

“Mr. Cipollone appeared voluntarily and answered a whole series of questions,” said committee member Zoe Lofgren (D-California). “He did not contradict the testimony of other witnesses and I think we learned a few things that we’re going to roll out in future hearings. It was an exhausting day for all involved. … But it was worth it.”

Lofgren described Cipollone as “cautious” and “outspoken” in his testimony, adding that new information and “additional insight into the actual day” of January 6 have been gleaned.

Hutchinson’s testimony identified Cipollone as a key witness to potential criminal activity in Trump’s White House.

Hutchinson testified that on the morning of January 6, Cipollone made an urgent request, saying “something to the effect of, ‘Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We are going to be accused of every crime imaginable if we make this move happen.

She also testified that when violence erupted on Capitol Hill, Cipollone demanded that he and Meadows speak with Trump to intervene and try to stop the violence. When Meadows told Cipollone that Trump didn’t want to do anything, Cipollone replied that “something has to be done, or people are going to die, the blood is going to be on your f-ing hands,” according to Hutchinson’s account of the interaction.

Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oathkeepers militia, offered the House committee on Friday to appear before the committee, his lawyer Lee Bright confirmed.

The committee did not respond to the offer. Rhodes requested that his testimony be conducted under certain conditions: an open forum, recorded from a location other than the prison where he is currently being held, and unedited. Bright said his client was willing to talk about Oath Keeper’s business during the last election and January 6, 2021.

Isaac Arnsdorf and Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.

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