Will Donald Trump end Steve Bannon's executive privilege?
- Trump is considering relinquishing executive privilege for Steve Bannon
- Federal prosecutors do not believe the former President's privilege claims safeguarded Bannon
- Bannon will face criminal contempt charges later this month after refusing to assist with the House panel
Former US President Donald Trump is considering relinquishing executive privilege for Steve Bannon, although federal prosecutors do not believe the former President's privilege claims safeguarded his longstanding political adviser in the first place, according to two sources familiar with the case, reported CNN.
According to the network, Trump may write a letter memorialising his position that might be used in Bannon's defence, clearing the way for Bannon to speak before the House select committee probing the January 6, 2021, insurgency.
Trump is considering writing the letter, according to the Washington Post.
Bannon will face criminal contempt charges later this month after refusing to assist with the House panel, citing wide executive privilege claims – the first case of its sort to come from the momentous congressional inquiry. He has pled not guilty to the accusations of contempt.
Even if Bannon agrees to testify before the committee, that is not a remedy in a criminal contempt of Congress case, so the impact on his future trial is uncertain.
Bannon and several other conservatives have attempted to challenge the subpoenas issued by the select committee in court, but their arguments have been consistently rejected by federal judges.
Also read: Why Joe Rogan won't interview Donald Trump
Legal experts say Bannon's privilege claims are questionable, in part because he left the White House years before the attack on the US Capitol. "There is no executive privilege. This is a ploy to mess up his criminal case," CNN analyst Norm Eisen said.
The Justice Department likewise rejected Bannon's claims of privilege and indicted him last year.
Bannon's motion to dismiss the case against him was denied last month by DC District Court Judge Carl Nichols, who rejected his arguments that the House select committee's subpoenas were illegal and that he was protected by presidential secrecy because he had contact with Trump at the end of his administration.
To win a conviction, Justice Department prosecutors who received a referral from the House will need to prove a relatively modest case at trial: that Bannon willfully refused to respond to the congressional inquiry. The judge has already ruled that he will not be able to claim that he relied on the counsel of his lawyer.