Steve Bannon is “not required to respond” to a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol because former President Donald Trump says their communications are protected by executive privilege, his lawyer claimed in a letter Wednesday.
Trump’s lawyer told Bannon that the ex-president “is exercising his executive privilege” and instructed him “not to produce documents or testify until the issue of executive privilege is resolved,” lawyer Robert Costello wrote.
“That is is an issue between the Committee and President Trump’s counsel and Mr. Bannon is not required to respond at this time,” Costello wrote in the letter, posted on Twitter by an ABC News producer.
In his letter to select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Costello also called “your use of the word ‘defiance’” in regard to Bannon’s stance “inappropriate,” and added that Trump’s former campaign CEO and White House strategist “will revisit his position if President Trump’s position changes or if a court rules on this matter.”
Last week, Trump hinted at a legal battle after the White House said his claim of executive privilege over records maintained by the National Archives was “not warranted,” and that any other issues would be dealt with “on a case-by-case basis.”
Bannon’s move — which came after he previously indicated he wouldn’t comply with the subpoena — is expected to prompt the committee to seek his prosecution for criminal contempt, CNN reported Thursday, citing sources familiar with the plan.
It’s unclear when the committee would formally refer the matter to the US Justice Department, but it could start taking the initial steps shortly after Thursday’s deadline expires, CNN said.
Bannon is one of four former Trump aides who were slapped with subpoenas last month.
The others are former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff for communications Dan Scavino and former Pentagon official Kash Patel.
Meadows and Patel have been “engaging” with the committee, officials have said, and Scavino — Trump’s former golf caddie-turned-social media director — was only recently served with his subpoena, which likely pushed back his deadline to respond, according to CNN.
On Thursday, the committee issued a subpoena against former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, with Thompson writing there was “credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”
That subpoena set an Oct. 29 deadline for Clark to submit documents and appear for a deposition.
A total of 19 subpoenas have been issued, including 11 against organizers of the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol by hundreds of Trump supporters attempting to prevent congressional certification of President Biden’s electoral victory.
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