Bannon’s lawyer wrote a letter to the commission on Wednesday stating that his client would not provide testimony or documents until the committee reached an agreement with former President Donald Trump on executive privileges or the court considered the matter. “This is a problem between the committee and President Trump’s adviser, and Mr Bannon may not respond at the moment,” wrote lawyer Robert Costello.
While it may take some time for the House to send such a recommendation to the Department of Justice, the committee could take initial steps within hours of the panel’s deadline – Thursday – if Bannon refuses to cooperate, sources have underlined the growing sense of urgency surrounding the investigation itself.
“The reason some of these witnesses, people like Steve Bannon, who have been publicly informed of their contempt for Congress, feel they can get away with it is four years,” commissioner Adam Schiff told MSNBC on Wednesday.
“He would never be prosecuted by Trump’s Department of Justice. But those days are gone. And I consider this not only essential for our investigation, but I consider this, the promotion of the rule of law, an early test of whether our democracy is recovering, “the California Democrat added.
CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen quickly pushed back to Costell’s letter on Wednesday and said, “It’s wrong. The letter cites the case where the “president” can decide on the privileges of the executive. But Trump is no longer “president.” In the United States, we always have only one of them, Joe Biden, and he hasn’t exercised his privileges here. “
Three other Trump allies are also waiting to be summoned this week. Two of them, Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former administration official Kash Patel, are “acting” according to the panel, although it is unclear whether this contact constitutes any form of cooperation.
As to whether Meadows and Patel will appear before the jury this week for their resignations, committee member Steph. they have nothing to hide, there is no reason why they should not appear. “
“We look forward to Steve Bannon’s resignation”
Bannon has not yet cooperated, and lawmakers took the opportunity before Thursday’s deadline and reiterated that he is obliged to do so.
“We look forward to Steve Bannon’s resignation tomorrow and the receipt of all the testimony and evidence we have called,” Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, a member of the selected committee said Wednesday in a tweet. “This is the rule of law and the civic duty to share information about the largest violent attack on Congress since the war of 1812.”
In a letter to the committee earlier this month, Bannon’s attorney stated that “executive privileges belong to President Trump” and “we must accept his leadership and honor his invocation of executive privileges.”
The letter from Bannon’s legal team further states that it may be up to the courts to decide whether he is ultimately forced to cooperate – in principle, the House dares to sue or criminally despise him.
“Until these issues are resolved, we cannot respond to your request for documents and testimony,” wrote lawyer Robert Costello.
The claim that Bannon could benefit from the privileges of a former president is unusual because Bannon did not work for the federal government around the January 6 uprising.
Entitlement claims usually apply to close officials around the president, and negotiations between government employees and Bannon was fired in 2017 from his role as a White House adviser.
Many legal experts agree with the committee that Bannon, as a private citizen, would not have the right to block a subpoena by claiming executive privileges.
Historical cases of criminal contempt
As much as it is a recommendation of criminal contempt, the choice of the House to use the Ministry of Justice may be a warning rather than a solution. Bannon’s detention in criminal contempt through prosecution could take years, and historical cases of criminal contempt have been derailed by appeal and acquittal.
“In a way, they’re in a box,” Stanley Brand, a former general adviser to the House, said Wednesday. “No matter how they go, it’s a legal donnybrook, potentially it will take some time.”
“I watch people on TV talking about it. They will send [Bannon] to criminal contempt. OK. Fine. That is where the whole case begins, “said Brand, who was General Counsel of the House during Lavelle’s contempt, CNN.” It is not automatic that they will be convicted. ”
The approach to criminal contempt is also structured to be a punishment rather than an attempt to force a witness to speak.
“It’s not like civil contempt for you to hold the keys to your cell in prison and be released,” if the witness agrees to testify, Brand said.
Instead, the house essentially loses control of the case as the Department of Justice takes over the prosecution.
“They don’t have time,” Brand added. “He has to do it by next year before the election.”
Christie Johnson of CNN contributed to this report.