Former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon has done a complete u-turn and now plans to testify before Congress’ Jan 6 committee, just days before he was scheduled to appear in federal court for a trial related to his indictment for criminal contempt of Congress.
His change of heart hinged on former President Donald Trump’s approval for Bannon to testify according to two letters that were reviewed by The New York Times.
In one of the letters, Bannon’s attorney Robert Costello wrote to Committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (R-MI) to inform him that Bannon wants to testify in public.
“Mr. Bannon is willing to, and indeed prefers, to testify at your public hearing,” he said.
However, a Democrat member of the committee told CNN on Sunday that it would be behind closed doors so it’s unclear how the committee will respond to this request as they have had hundreds of people testify out of the public eye.
A second letter reportedly addressed to Bannon from Trump himself contained written confirmation that the former president waived the executive privilege that had previously played into Bannon’s decision not to testify.
“When you first received the subpoena to testify and provide documents, I invoked executive privilege,” the former president wrote. “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.”
“Therefore, if you reach an agreement on a time and place for your testimony, 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.”
Swarm of cops show up at Steve Bannon’s home after false report by ‘prankster’ that he shot someone https://t.co/vj0tlscJQ4 pic.twitter.com/E64eDC7yPl
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) July 9, 2022
Costello clarified on Sunday that “Our position about the committee remains unchanged, but President Trump wants Mr. Bannon to tell the committee the truth.”
There was intense speculation on what Bannon’s motive to testify might be and how his last-minute flip-flop might play out.
My betting is the deal has already been cut, he wants a public hearing and that’s part of the deal, he’ll grandstand all through it.
— 🏳️🌈Terri🏳️⚧️ (@PumaBare) July 10, 2022
He will kick their asses
— 🍊Ultra MAGA Jon B🍊 (@JonJonbako) July 11, 2022
Bannon has not agreed to testify because it’s the right thing to do. He will try and blow things up during his appearance while causing chaos. Being under oath means nothing to him.
— BMW212 (@BebeWrigg) July 10, 2022
He’s not going to testify. This is merely a stunt for his upcoming trial. J6 committee isn’t going to let him have a media day of bullshit.
— PJDLosAngeles 🇺🇦🇺🇸 (@PJDinLA) July 10, 2022
Bannon will show what fools the are!
— ForTheUSA (@4theUSA2) July 10, 2022
Late last month, Bannon’s attorney filed a motion requesting the trial be postponed due to the ongoing Jan. 6 hearings which he argued would make it “impossible to guarantee Mr. Bannon a fair trial in the middle of much-publicized Select Committee hearings which purport to broadcast investigative ‘findings’ on topics that are reference in the Indictment.”
“Under the circumstances, we believe that it would be erroneous to deny a requested continuance when congressional hearings create prejudicial pretrial publicity – as has been acknowledged by the Government and found to constitute good cause for a trial continuance in another pending case in this district,” Costello wrote.
Bannon will face up to 12 months in jail and a penalty of $100,000 in his federal trial which is currently set for next Monday.
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