Facing two years in prison and heavy fines, former Trump campaign manager and White House adviser Steve Bannon, made the abrupt about-face and is now saying he is willing to testify before the House Jan 6 Committee.
Bannon, who until Saturday had been among the most obstinate and defiant of the committee’s potential witnesses. He had promised to turn the criminal case against him into the “misdemeanor from hell” for the Justice Department.
With his criminal trial for contempt of Congress approaching and the possibility of two years in jail and large fines looming over his head, Bannon has informed the House Select Committee that he is now willing to testify
Bannon’s decision came after former president Donald Trump conveniently “authorized” him to talk to investigators, The New York Times reports.
“Mr. Bannon is willing to, and indeed prefers, to testify at your public hearing,” Robert J. Costello, Mr. Bannon’s lawyer, wrote to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chairman of the committee.
According to federal prosecutors, however, Bannon’s “attorney misrepresented to the Committee what the former President’s counsel had told the Defendant’s attorney,” CNN reports.
Citing newly revealed court documents, the news network reported Monday that the FBI interviewed Trump’s attorney Justin Clark two weeks ago and contradicted Bannon’s claim that the former president invoked executive privilege over particular information or materials, which Bannon had cited as an excuse to avoid testifying before the House select committee investigating the insurrection.
Making matters worse for Bannon is the fact that although both the House select committee and federal prosecutors contend that privilege claim never gave Bannon carte blanche to ignore a congressional subpoena in the first place.
In a Monday court filing, federal prosecutors called Bannon’s willingness to now testify before the House select committee a “last-minute” effort that doesn’t change the case against him, pointing out that he has not produced subpoenaed records, according to CNN.
“The Defendant’s last-minute efforts to testify almost nine months after his default — he has still made no effort to produce records — are irrelevant to whether he willfully refused to comply in October 2021 with the Select Committee’s subpoena,” prosecutors wrote.
“The criminal contempt statute is not intended to procure compliance; it is intended to punish past noncompliance,” prosecutors wrote in their filing.
Bannon is currently set to go to trial on July 18.