DOJ Says Trump Never Invoked Executive Privilege Over Steve Bannon

( Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, said this week that he would indeed testify before the House’s January 6 investigating committee, because Trump said he would not invoke executive privilege over it.

However, the Biden administration’s Department of Justice has said that Trump never invoked that privilege in regard to Bannon, and that his willingness to come around and testify in front of the committee is a “last-ditch attempt” to try to avoid being accountable.

Bannon originally refused to comply with the committee’s subpoena to testify, which eventually led to him being charged with contempt of Congress. His trial in that case was set to begin shortly.

But, on July 9. Trump sent a letter to Bannon as well as Robert Costello, his lawyer, saying he would indeed waive that privilege for Bannon as he “watched how unfairly you and others have been treated … [by the] Unselect Committee of political Thugs and Hacks.”

Costello sent a letter over to Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, who is serving as the chair of the committee, that said Bannon has “not had a change of posture or of heart.” He added, though, that “circumstances have now changed” after the former president told him he’d waive executive privilege.

The DOJ, though, filed a motion on Monday saying Justin Clark, Trump’s attorney, gave a June 29 interview to the FBI in which he said Trump “never invoked executive privilege over any particular information or materials” that were related at all to Bannon.

As such, the DOJ says Bannon’s claim that he’ll testify not because Trump waived privilege is in dispute. They say that defense of not complying with the committee’s investigation “never provided a basis for total noncompliance in the first place.”

Prosecutors for the DOJ also said that the adviser’s “eleventh-hour efforts” to try to look as if he’s a willing participating in the investigation doesn’t do anything to “begin to cure his failure to produce records” as part of the subpoena, which was issued to him last September.

In the motion, the DOJ wrote:

“All of the above-described circumstances suggest the Defendant’s sudden wish to testify is not a genuine effort to meet his obligations but a last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability.”

In other words, they are saying that they want to continue pursuing the criminal contempt of Congress charges that he’s facing, even though he’s now apparently going to testify before the January 6 committee.

For his part, Bannon has always argued that Trump’s executive privilege could ultimately be extended over to private citizens. Bannon wasn’t serving in any official role in the White House around the 2020 presidential election or on January 6, 2021, when the insurrection occurred.

Bannon’s legal team has tried to get the trial delayed for a while now, but the DOJ has aid those have been “frivolous” complaints that have only sought to delay his trial.