Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former political adviser, is willing to testify in front of a congressional panel probing the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, in an abrupt about-face from his previous refusal to take part.
In a letter penned to Bennie Thompson, the Democratic representative from Mississippi who chairs the House committee, Bannon’s attorney said that “circumstances have now changed”.
“Mr Bannon is willing to, and indeed prefers, to testify at your public hearing,” Robert Costello wrote on Saturday.
The decision comes after Trump wrote to Bannon this weekend informing him that he was waiving executive privilege for his former top aid. Trump said this would allow Bannon to “go in and testify truthfully and fairly”.
Both the congressional committee and federal prosecutors have argued that Bannon was never shielded by the protection, which gives the president and other members of the executive branch the power to withhold the disclosure of certain confidential records.
Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury for contempt of Congress last year, having previously failed to either comply with a subpoena to appear at a deposition or to produce documents related to the deadly riot, which sought to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory.
Bannon left the administration in 2017, long before the 2021 attack on the Capitol. He had served as Trump’s chief political strategist during the 2016 election campaign.
The letter indicating Bannon’s willingness to testify as well as the one from Trump were first reported by the Guardian.
“We have wanted him to testify,” Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, who sits on the committee, told CNN in an interview. “I expect that we will be hearing from him. And there are many questions that we have for him.”
The committee is wrapping up its hearings, which have stretched on for weeks and have featured dramatic testimony from people who worked directly with Trump.
One of Trump’s junior aides, Cassidy Hutchinson, detailed the former president’s clash with the US Secret Service as he tried to head to the Capitol on January 6 to join a mob of his supporters, even after being told they were carrying weapons, among other revelations .
Trump’s former White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, who was subpoenaed and met committee members for more than eight hours on Friday, provided “a lot of information that fit into this bigger puzzle”, according to the Democratic representative and committee member Stephanie Murphy.
“He claimed privilege on conversations that related to the advice he provided directly to the president or conversations with the president,” she said in an interview with NBC on Sunday.
“But I think we still got a lot of relevant information from him, and it provides us another perspective on what was happening in the White House in those weeks running up to January 6 that were so critically important.”