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Why Is Donald Trump Trying to Clear the Way for Steve Bannon to Testify Before Congress?

Bannon

Al Drago/AP

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With Donald Trump set to waive his claim to executive privilege, onetime adviser Steve Bannon may be due for a date before Congress. Trump had fought to prevent Bannon, a ringleader of the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election, from appearing before the Congressional committee investigating the pro-Trump insurrection on January 6. Still, sources told the Washington Post that Trump now is “considering sending a letter” to Bannon that would clear the way for his testimony. 

Per the Post‘s reporting:

The letter would reiterate that Trump invoked executive privilege in September 2021, when Bannon was first subpoenaed by the House committee. But it would say that the former president is now willing to give up that claim—the validity of which has been disputed—if Bannon can reach an agreement on the terms of an appearance before the panel.

Bannon defied that original Congressional subpoena, leading to his indictment in November on contempt charges. For months, Bannon has fruitlessly tried to get his case dismissed while portraying himself as a victim of overzealous Justice Department prosecutors. 

Whether Trump even has the right to withhold his testimony through executive privilege is subject to debate. (Bannon had been long gone from the White House by the time of January 6.) Given how the testimony of so many former members of his administration only further added to Trump’s culpability, Bannon might offer Trump an opportunity to put one of his most ardent True Believers in the spotlight while under oath.

The January 6 hearings have already proved to be a blockbuster, but Bannon—as notoriously provocative and shameless as anyone in Trump’s circle—would likely be an especially inflammatory witness once the hearings recommence in July. Not only has he refused to back down from defending the January 6 insurrection, but he’s also made it a signature part of the brand he burnishes on War Room, a disinformation-fest that has been a landing zone of sorts for the #StopTheSteal folks. “Trump won. Biden’s illegitimate,” he says nearly every episode. 

Now we’ll see what he says under oath. 

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