A week before he was set to go on trial on contempt of Congress charges for failing to comply with a subpoena by the House committee investigating January 6, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has reversed course and agreed to testify publicly.
Bannon’s decision came after former President Trump sent him a letter saying that he would waive executive privilege to allow Bannon to testify. Bannon’s lawyers have argued that executive privilege exempts former White House staffers from complying with congressional subpoenas, but government lawyers dispute this, since Bannon was a private citizen on January 6, 2021.
“When you first received the Subpoena to testify and provide documents, I invoked Executive Privilege,” Trump wrote in the letter. “However, I watched how unfairly you and others have been treated, having to spend vast amounts of money on legal fees, and all of the trauma you must be going through for the love of your Country, and out of respect for the Office of the President.”
Following weeks of damning testimony at the committee’s public hearings, Trump is likely eager to have a steadfast ally present his version of the events leading up to the attack on the Capitol. “I will waive Executive Privilege for you, which allows for you to go in and testify truthfully and fairly, as per the request of the Unselect Committee of political Thugs and Hacks, who have allowed no Due Process, no Cross-Examination, and no real Republican members or witnesses to be present or interviewed,” Trump wrote.
Still, it’s unclear whether Bannon will actually testify, or how his testimony might affect his contempt trial. Bannon wants to testify at a public hearing, but Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said that the January 6 committee would prefer a private deposition. “We want to get all our questions answered,” she said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, “and you can’t do that in a live format.”