Trump Waives Privilege; Bannon Agrees to Testify on Jan. 6 Steve Bannon, advisor to former President Donald Trump, arrives to the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on June 15, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
By Eric Mack | Sunday, 10 July 2022 01:59 PM EDT
After former President Donald Trump notified Steve Bannon on Saturday he would waive his executive privilege on Jan. 6 testimony, Bannon has agreed to testify, preferably at a public hearing.
"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's letter to Bannon read, according to myriad reports. "It is a partisan kangaroo court."
Bannon was facing trial July 18 on criminal contempt charges for refusing to testify before the House Jan. 6 Select Committee, but now his lawyer says Bannon will testify after Trump has cleared him to do so, CNBC reported.
Trump had been rejected on claims of executive privilege without due process in a court of law, so his waiving executive privilege might merely be a function of Biden administration Justice Department pressure placed on Bannon in a potential criminal-contempt trial.
"When you first received the subpoena to testify and provide documents, I invoked executive privilege," Trump's letter continued. "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."
Bannon lawyer Bob Costello says Bannon will now testify after being cleared by Trump to do so.
"While Mr. Bannon has been steadfast in his convictions, circumstances have now changed," Costello wrote in a letter to committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., CNBC reported. "Mr. Bannon is willing to, and indeed prefers, to testify at your public hearing."
Trump's letter to Bannon bashed the politicized Jan. 6 "hit job."
"Why should these evil, sinister, and unpatriotic people be allowed to hurt and destroy the lives of so many, and cause such great harm to our country?" Trump's letter concluded. "It has been, from the time I came down the escalator at Trump Tower, a political hit job against the overwhelming majority of Americans who support the concept and policy of Making America Great Again and putting America First. Good luck in all of your future endeavors."
Just before the letter's release, Costello filed Friday to the court, saying he served as "Bannon’s sole basis of information about the facts and the law concerning this matter" and, while he could serve as his attorney before the trial, it appeared less clear that he could represent Bannon once proceedings began.
"Since it appears there will be a trial, and since it appears that at this point in time I might be called as a witness, I must reluctantly ask the court to grant my request" asking to withdraw as trial counsel, Costello wrote in a filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Reuters reported.
Also Friday, former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone met for a private interview with the Jan. 6 committee for about eight hours.