Onetime White House strategist Steve Bannon and former chief of staff Mark Meadows are in “deep doo-doo” now that the Supreme Court has ruled against former President Donald Trump’s claim of executive privilege to shield documents sought in the U.S. Capitol riot probe, warned law professor Neal Katyal.
Bannon and Meadows have refused to testify before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress, claiming that they, too, were protected by the executive privilege shield Trump has claimed.
The court’s decision is a “real problem for them,” added Katyal, who was acting solicitor general in the Obama administration.
“Remember that Steve Bannon has been indicted already for contempt for not giving these answers to Congress, so he’s facing criminal charges. Mark Meadows is on his way to the same thing. Both of their defenses to contempt is executive privilege, and the Supreme Court ... blew that out of the water,” Katyal added. “That means these two individuals really do have to talk to investigators in Congress” now.
The decision also affects plans by others — including Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and lawyer John Eastman, who wrote the “coup memos” mapping a path to overturn the 2020 election — to cite executive privilege to dodge testimony before the House committee, Katyal noted.
“It’s going to be very hard for ... the whole cast of characters to avoid having to testify,” Katyal said. “They can try other arguments, like the Fifth Amendment and so on,” but the court’s ruling is “a real nail in the coffin” for them.
Even more significantly, it means the entire “Trump signature move” ― using executive privilege to hide documents and keep people from testifying in televised hearings in Congress, is “now decimated by the Supreme Court’s ruling,” he emphasized.
Executive privilege has its place, he said. “What it’s not about is plotting a coup and overthrowing American democracy.”