Washington (AP) – A lawyer for Steve Bannon said Friday that Bannon would not comply with a congressional investigation into the January 6 uprising at the Capitol because former President Donald Trump is claiming executive privilege to withhold demands for testimony and documents.
“As such, until these issues are resolved, we are unable to respond to your requests for documents and testimony,” Attorney Robert Costello said in a letter to the special House committee investigating the attack.
But he also said Bannon, a former Trump aide who had contact with him in the week of the Capitol attack, is ready to “follow the directions of the courts” when they rule on the issue.
The instructions from Trump to Bannon raise the possibility that three other aides who were summoned — Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff; Dan Scavino, the former deputy chief of staff for communications and Kashyap Patel, a former Defense Department official, may also refuse to comply. Neither of the three has yet responded to the summons, including requests for documents due on Thursday. The committee has scheduled the interview for next week.
Costello’s letter to the committee includes excerpts from a letter sent to Bannon by Trump’s lawyer, Justin Clark. Clark says documents and testimony may include information that is “potentially protected from disclosure by executive and other privileges, including other presidential communications, deliberative processes and attorney client privileges.”
Clarke wrote to Bannon that “President Trump stands ready to defend these fundamental privileges in court.”
Trump spokesmen did not return messages seeking comment. Trump said in a statement last month that he would “fight subpoenas on executive privilege and other grounds for the good of our country.”
The move sets the stage for a possible confrontation with House Democrats, who are probing the roles of Trump and his aides in the riots, when a large crowd of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as Congress was certifying the results. . The presidential election was won by Democrat Joe Biden. The committee is increasingly issuing summons to individuals who are either associated with Trump or who helped plan the massive rally on the morning of January 6, at which he told his supporters to “fight like hell”. .
Bannon summoned on September 23 is the only one of the top Trump aides who was not working for the Trump administration on January 6. It is not clear whether it will affect their position if the matter goes to the courts.
Patel said in a statement that he would “continue to tell the American people the truth about January 6” but did not say whether he would follow through. An associate of Scavino and Meadows did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Committee members have stated that if a witness refuses to cooperate, they plan to try and move swiftly to obtain the testimony. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted Thursday that if Trump aides don’t comply, “they could be subject to criminal contempt.”
Accusing Trump aides of contempt could still be a lengthy process, involving a full House vote and possible court proceedings.
The issue could get even more complicated as Trump is no longer in office. As former President, he cannot claim the privilege directly To keep witnesses silent or keep documents out of Congress’ hands. As the current President, Biden would say something in this matter.
Select committee to probe January 6 attack has issued More than a dozen summons to people associated with the plan of 6 January protestIncluding three additional witnesses announced on Thursday. Those individuals would be less likely to be helped by Trump’s claims of executive privilege, as they did not work for the White House and most of them did not have regular contact with Trump.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Benny Thompson, D-Miss, said that additional summons had gone to Ali Abdul Akbar, also known as Ali Sikander, And Nathan Martin, as well as the organization ” stop stealing, To learn more about a rally that was planned at the Capitol Ground at the same time as the large gathering on the National Mall. The committee had previously summoned 11 other individuals involved with planning the big rally.
According to the committee, Alexander issued a statement after the riots linking “Stop the Steel” to the Capitol rally permit and explaining that the intention was to direct large rally attendees to march to the Capitol. The panel cited reports that Alexander had referred to “the potential use of violence to achieve the organization’s goals” and was in communication with the White House and members of Congress.
“The rally at Capitol grounds on January 6, like the rally near the White House that day, took place just before the violent attack on the seat of our democracy,” Thompson said in a statement. “During that day, the demonstrations turned into violence and the protesters became rioters.”
Thompson said the committee needed to “understand all the details about the events that happened prior to the attack, including who was involved in planning and funding them.”