WASHINGTON: Donald Trump’s former close adviser Steve Bannon has agreed to testify to the US congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, according to media reports on Sunday, amid questions over the terms of his appearance.
His change of heart was reported by CNN, the New York Times and Washington Post ahead of a July 18 trial for Bannon on two charges of criminal contempt of Congress for previously refusing to testify or provide documents.
They said Bannon’s lawyer, Robert Costello, wrote to the House of Representatives committee to say Trump, the former president, would waive the claim of executive privilege which Bannon had cited in refusing to testify.
Trump has been chafing that none of his supporters have testified in his defense at the committee hearings which, separate from the trial, are focused on the attack by Trump supporters seeking to stop the certification in Congress of Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden in the November 2020 election.
Representative Zoe Lofgren, a committee Democrat, told CNN the panel received a letter around midnight on Saturday and “I expect that we will be hearing from him.” It was unclear whether Bannon would agree to the committee’s practice of privately interviewing witnesses before possible public testimony. The media reports said Costello’s letter to the committee said Bannon wanted to testify at a public hearing.
“Ordinarily, we do depositions,” Lofgren told CNN. “This goes on for hour after hour after hour. We want to get all our questions answered. And you can’t do that in a live format.” Lofgren added, “There are many questions that we have for him.” Throughout the select committee’s hearings, videotaped snippets of closed-door testimony by witnesses under oath have been shown to the public.
The House panel said it had no comment on the possibility of Bannon testifying, and Costello did not immediately respond to queries from Reuters. The committee is due to hold public hearings on Tuesday and Thursday this week.
Bannon, a prominent figure in right-wing media circles, was an architect of Trump’s 2016 presidential victory and served as White House chief strategist in 2017.