Federal prosecutors revealed on Monday that the Justice Department interviewed former President Trump’s attorney last month regarding their contempt case against Stephen Bannon.
In a court filing submitted just after midnight, prosecutors said the attorney, Justin Clark, told investigators that Trump never asserted executive privilege in response to the subpoena Bannon received last year from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
“On June 29, 2022, former President Donald Trump’s attorney, who sent the letter on which the Defendant claimed his noncompliance was based, confirmed what his correspondence has already established: that the former President never invoked executive privilege over any particular information or materials; that the former President’s counsel never asked or was asked to attend the Defendant’s deposition before the Select Committee; that the Defendant’s attorney misrepresented to the Committee what the former President’s counsel had told the Defendant’s attorney; and that the former President’s counsel made clear to the Defendant’s attorney that the letter provided no basis for total noncompliance,” the filing reads.
The revelations come less than two days after Bannon’s lawyers said in a letter to the House Jan. 6 select committee that their client is now willing to testify before the panel, partly because Trump decided to “waive” any assertions of executive privilege over his former adviser.
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“President Trump has provided us with a letter, which is attached, attesting to the fact that back in October 2021, he did invoke executive privilege with respect to Mr. Bannon’s testimony and document production,” Robert Costello, an attorney representing Bannon, wrote to the committee in the July 9 letter.
Justice Department prosecutors said their interview with Clark and other evidence appears to contradict Bannon’s lawyer’s claims to the select committee.
“Even the Defendant’s claim that the reason he is now willing to testify is because the former President is ‘waiving’ executive privilege is subject to question given all of the evidence and law that has been addressed in this case, of which he must be aware, demonstrating that executive privilege never provided a basis for total noncompliance in the first place,” they wrote in the filing.
Bannon’s trial over two misdemeanor contempt of Congress charges is set to begin next week.
The prosecutors argued on Monday that Bannon’s sudden willingness to testify does nothing to affect his culpability in the case and asked a judge to prevent the defense from presenting any evidence about his recent change of heart.
“The Defendant’s purported desire to testify now does not erase his past contempt,” the prosecutors wrote.