Trump ally Bannon is now ready to testify before the January 6 panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — Steve Bannona former White House strategist and Donald Trump ally who faces criminal charges after months of defying a congressional subpoena over the Capitol riot, the House committee investigating the attack that he is now ready to testify.

Bannon’s reversal was conveyed in a letter from his attorney on Saturday, lawmakers said, as the committee prepares to release some of its most stark revelations this week against Trump in what could be its final round of hearings. .

“I expect we will hear from him and we have many questions for him,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif, said. She and other committee members said in televised interviews Sunday that they intended to ask Bannon to sit down for a private interview, which they typically conduct in a sworn deposition.

Bannon had been one of Trump’s most prominent allies in refusing to testify before the committee, which led to two counts of contempt of Congress last year for resisting the committee’s subpoena. . He argued that his testimony is protected by Trump’s claim of executive privilege. The committee argues that such a claim is dubious because Trump had fired Bannon from the White House in 2017 and Bannon was therefore a private citizen when he consulted with the then president on the eve of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot.

Yet in recent days, as the former president grew frustrated with what he decried as the committee’s one-sided presentation of seven Democrats and two Republicans, Trump said he would waive that claim of privilege, according to a letter. sent Saturday to Bannon’s attorney.

“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, as requested by the unelected committee of thugs and political hacks,” Trump wrote.

Thursday night’s committee hearing will consider the stretch of more than three hours when Trump failed to act as a crowd of supporters stormed the Capitol. It will be the first prime-time audience since the June 9 debut that has been seen by 20 million people.

A hearing on Tuesday will focus on conspiracy and planning for the insurgency by white nationalist groups such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, and will also highlight testimony taken Friday by the former attorney for the White House, Pat Cipollone.

It comes after the surprise testimony last month of former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson provided the most compelling evidence yet that Trump could be tied to a federal crime. Since then, the committee has seen an influx of new information and confidential advice.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., suggested that Bannon “had a change of heart, and after seeing, presumably, all of these people come forward, including Cassidy Hutchinson, he decided he wanted to come in, and s wants to come in, I’m sure the committee would be very interested in hearing from him.

Bannon’s trial on both counts is July 18. A hearing in his case was scheduled for Monday in federal court in Washington. Bannon asked for a postponement of his trial to at least fall.

It is unclear to what extent Bannon intends to cooperate. He expressed his preference to appear before the committee in a public hearing. The committee specifies that he must first sit down for a private interview, usually in the context of a sworn deposition. It’s also possible that he chooses to appear and then refuses to answer questions, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

“The way we treated every witness is the same, whether they come in, whether they talk to the committee there,” Raskin said. “If they’re going to take a statement, they’re sworn. It’s recorded on video. It’s taped, and then we take it from there.

The committee says it wants to hear from Bannon because he “had specific knowledge about the events scheduled for January 6 before they happened.” He cited as an example the comments he made on his podcast the day before the riot.

“It’s not going to turn out the way you think. OK, this is going to be quite extraordinarily different. All I can say is tie up,” Bannon said in this podcast. “Hell is going to break loose tomorrow. … So many people said, ‘Man, if I was in a revolution, I’d be in Washington.’ Well, this is your moment in history.

House investigators delved into the evidence gathered so far about the role extremist groups played in the deadly insurgency and what Trump was doing as violence ensued on the street of the White House.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who will lead Thursday’s hearing with Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., described the upcoming testimony as critical to providing a detailed timeline of what Trump did and didn’t. did not do during those critical hours on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021. This includes Trump’s tweet criticizing Vice President Mike Pence for lacking “courage” as angry protesters outside the Capitol were heard chanting “Hang Mike Pence” for not contesting Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

“We want to show the American people what the president was doing at that time,” Kinzinger said Sunday. “The rest of the country knew there was an insurgency. The president obviously had to know that there was an insurrection. Where was he then? What was he doing? It’s a very important audience. Pay attention. Because I think that goes to the heart of what a leader’s oath is.

Tuesday’s hearing will explore efforts to rally crowds on the National Mall, then stage the march down Pennsylvania Avenue, where some rioters — armed with pipes, bats and pepper spray — charged into the Capitol, quickly overwhelming overstretched police forces. More than 100 police officers were injured, many beaten, bloodied and bruised that day.

It will also highlight a Dec. 18, 2020 meeting at the White House where former Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and others launched the idea of ​​seizing voting machines and invoking emergency national security powers, to the impassioned objection of several White House lawyers who have argued that Trump should accept defeat, according to Raskin, who will lead Tuesday’s hearing.

“We’re going to be able to use a lot of Mr. Cipollone’s testimony,” he said. “He was aware of every major move, I think, that Donald Trump was making to try to overturn the 2020 election and essentially take over the presidency.”

Kinzinger spoke on ABC’s “This Week, Lofgren was on CNN’s “State of the Union” and Raskin appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

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Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, contributed to this report.

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