The House Select Committee on Jan. 6 has released a report that rejects former Trump political strategist Steve Bannon’s claim that he is unable to respond to the panel’s subpoena because of executive privilege.
The report included a number of documents that were released before the panel meets Tuesday for a scheduled vote over whether to refer Bannon to the Justice Department for prosecution over criminal contempt for ignoring the subpoena to provide testimony.
It also includes a letter from Bannon’s attorney, seen by The Hill and other media organizations, which notes that former President Donald Trump intends to file a lawsuit as well as his need to “honor his invocation of executive privilege.”
The report includes a response as well from committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), in which he brusquely dismisses Bannon’s arguments.
“First, virtually all the documents and testimony sought by the subpoena concern Mr. Bannon’s actions as a private citizen and involve a broad range of subjects that are not covered by executive privilege,” Thompson wrote in an Oct. 8 letter to Bannon’s attorney, Bob Costello.
“Even if your client has been a senior aide to the president during the period covered by the contemplated testimony, which he was most assuredly not, he is not permitted by law to the type of immunity you suggest Mr. Trump has requested he assert,” he added.
In addition, the report includes a list of previously undisclosed information and documents that the panel seeks from Bannon such as details regarding any role he played in planning rallies on Jan. 6 as well as details about coordination with Kash Patel, a former Trump Defense Department aide who has also been subpoenaed.
The report notes that Bannon has been asked whether he discussed the results of the 2020 election with groups including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, right-wing radio host Alex Jones, and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who was recently identified “as a key figure in Trump’s pressure campaign on the DOJ in the waning days of his presidency, according to a report from the Senate Judiciary Committee,” The Hill reported Tuesday.
The letter from Thompson to Costello also said the former Trump adviser is attempting to defy the subpoena based on a claim of executive privilege that had yet to be filed, though Trump’s attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday seeking to block the committee’s request for records pertaining to his administration after the Biden White House signed off on granting the committee’s request for documents earlier this month.
“President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified as to any of the documents,” White House Counsel Dana Remus wrote in a letter to the National Archives.
“These are unique and extraordinary circumstances,” Remus continued. “Congress is examining an assault on our Constitution and democratic institutions provoked and fanned by those sworn to protect them, and the conduct under investigation extends far beyond typical deliberations concerning the proper discharge of the President’s constitutional responsibilities.
“The constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself,” Remus added.
Costello sent a final letter to the committee telling members they will have to settle their disagreement regarding executive privilege claims with the former president, not his one-time strategy chief.
“Until such time as you reach an agreement with President Trump or receive a court ruling as to the extent, scope and application of the executive privilege…Mr. Bannon will not be producing documents or testifying,” Costello wrote.
The Hill reported that the Jan. 6 panel is likely to approve a criminal referral for Bannon. If members do, then the matter will go before the full House for a vote before any referral would be made to the Justice Department.
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