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Stephen Bannon Agrees to Testify to Jan. 6 Panel


WASHINGTON — Together with his criminal trial for contempt of Congress approaching, Stephen K. Bannon, an ally of former President Donald J. Trump’s who was involved in his plans to overturn the 2020 election, has informed the House committee investigating the Capitol attack that he’s now willing to testify, in accordance with two letters obtained by The Latest York Times.

His decision is a remarkable about-face for Mr. Bannon, who until Saturday had been amongst probably the most obstinate and defiant of the committee’s potential witnesses. He had promised to show the criminal case against him into the “misdemeanor from hell” for the Justice Department.

But with the opportunity of two years in jail and huge fines looming on the horizon, Mr. Bannon has been authorized to testify by Mr. Trump, his attorney told the committee late on Saturday in a letter, which was reported earlier by The Guardian.

The previous president had previously instructed Mr. Bannon and other associates to not cooperate with the panel, claiming that executive privilege — a president’s power to withhold certain internal executive branch information, especially confidential communications involving him or his top aides — compelled them to remain silent. But in recent days, as several witnesses have come forward to supply the House panel damning testimony about his conduct, Mr. Trump has grown frustrated that one in all his fiercest defenders has not yet appeared before the committee, people near him said.

“Mr. Bannon is willing to, and indeed prefers, to testify at your public hearing,” Robert J. Costello, Mr. Bannon’s attorney, wrote to Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee.

Key Revelations From the Jan. 6 Hearings

Mr. Costello said that Mr. Bannon’s decision to comply with the committee’s subpoena got here after he was cleared to testify by Mr. Trump. He provided the panel with a letter that Mr. Trump sent to Mr. Bannon on Saturday that waived any claim to executive privilege over this testimony.

The committee and the Justice Department have long maintained that Mr. Trump has no valid claim of executive privilege over Mr. Bannon’s testimony, partially because Mr. Bannon left the White House in 2017 and was a non-public citizen when he was involved in Mr. Trump’s efforts to carry on to power after the 2020 election.

“While you first received the subpoena to testify and supply documents, I invoked executive privilege,” Mr. Trump wrote in his letter to Mr. Bannon on Saturday. “Nevertheless, I watched how unfairly you and others have been treated, having to spend vast amounts of cash on legal fees and the entire trauma you should be going through for the love of your country and out of respect for the office of the president.”

“Subsequently,” he continued, “for those who reach an agreement on a time and place on your testimony, I’ll waive executive privilege for you, which allows so that you can go in and testify truthfully and fairly, as per the request of the unselect committee of political thugs and hacks.”

Mr. Bannon’s trial on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress is ready for July 18. Each count carries a penalty of as much as a yr in jail and a $100,000 nice.

It stays to be seen how Mr. Bannon’s latest posture will affect the criminal proceeding, and the way forthcoming he can be. He could refuse to discuss certain topics, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, as another witnesses have done. However the committee has repeatedly said that it needs to listen to from Mr. Bannon and receive the documents it requested from him about plans to overturn the 2020 election.

“We got the letter around midnight from his lawyer saying that he would testify, and we’ve wanted him to testify,” Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and a member of the committee, told CNN on Sunday. “So the committee, after all, has not yet had a probability to debate it, but I expect that we can be hearing from him. And there are a lot of questions that we’ve for him.”

Should Mr. Bannon ultimately appear for an interview, he would give his testimony behind closed doors like a whole lot of other witnesses have done, Ms. Lofgren said. The committee has rigorously choreographed its public hearings to make a streamlined presentation of its case, and has worked to avoid public sparring sessions with witnesses.

For months, Mr. Bannon has been perhaps probably the most bombastic and strident potential witness the committee has called to testify. He refused to show over a single document or sit for a minute of testimony. For his intransigence, the House voted in October to carry Mr. Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress.

However the panel has insisted that Mr. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist and counselor, could help investigators higher understand the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, which was meant to stop the certification of President Biden’s victory.

On his radio show on Jan. 5, 2021, Mr. Bannon promised that “all hell goes to interrupt loose tomorrow,” an announcement that shows he “had some foreknowledge about extreme events that may occur the subsequent day,” the committee said in a report.

Investigators have also pointed to a conversation Mr. Bannon had with Mr. Trump on Dec. 30, 2020, during which he urged him to focus his efforts on Jan. 6, the day that Congress was to make the official count of electoral votes to substantiate Mr. Biden’s victory. Mr. Bannon was also present at a gathering on the Willard Hotel in Washington the day before the violence, when plans were discussed to attempt to overturn the outcomes of the election the next day.

Mr. Bannon’s criminal case is just the newest against him.

Federal prosecutors indicted and arrested him last yr in Manhattan on charges related to money raised to advertise the development of the border wall long sought by Mr. Trump. But before facing trial, he was pre-emptively pardoned by Mr. Trump hours before the previous president left office.

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