Donald Trump’s attorney Justin Clark told government investigators last month that the former president never invoked executive privilege to block testimony by former White House strategist Steve Bannon concerning last year’s insurrection, the Department of Justice stated in a court filing Monday.
The revelation added more confusion over Bannon’s apparent efforts to skirt an upcoming trial on two criminal contempt of Congress charges for blowing off a subpoena last year to testify before the Jan. 6 select committee. It also raised the question about why Trump on Friday issued a letter saying he would “waive” executive privilege to allow Bannon to testify.
Neither Bannon nor Clark could immediately be reached for comment.
In the court filing, prosecutors characterized Bannon’s actions not as a “genuine effort to meet his obligations, but a last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability.” The only thing that “really changed since he refused to comply with the subpoena in October 2021 is that he is finally about to face the consequences of his decision to default.”
On Monday, a federal judge refused to delay Bannon’s trial, scheduled to begin next week. The ruling came just two days after Bannon’s last-minute offer to testify before the Jan. 6 panel.
Bannon has been barred from presenting several potential defenses or calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or members of the select committee to the stand during his trial. The judge also rejected Bannon’s contention that Trump had claimed executive privilege over his testimony and documents
“I see no reason for extending this case any longer,” said U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols.