Prosecutors say Steve Bannon's offer to testify to the January 6 committee is 'irrelevant' for his contempt of Congress trial
Steve Bannonis ready to testify to the House committee investigating January 6, per his lawyer.
- But federal prosecutors say that should have no bearing on his upcoming contempt of Congress trial.
Federal prosecutors in a Monday court filing dismissed Steve Bannon's offer to testify to the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection as "irrelevant" to the criminal charges against him and "a waste of time."
"The Defendant's sudden wish to testify is not a genuine effort to meet his obligations but a last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability," federal prosecutors said.
Bannon is set to stand trial July 18 on contempt of Congress charges, but he has asked to delay the proceeding in light of the publicity around the House
On Saturday, after months of stonewalling the committee, an attorney for Bannon told Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House committee, that the former Trump aide would testify after all. The committee is investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which he lost, and the actions of the Trump-supporting mob that invaded the Capitol.
The committee subpoenaed Bannon in September of last year, but he refused to comply, arguing it wasn't legitimate and that he has "executive privilege" even though he stopped working for the Trump administration in 2017.
The Justice Department brought contempt of Congress charges against Bannon in November. His trial is scheduled to begin later this month.
In Monday's filing, prosecutors said that Bannon's apparent months-late about-face was irrelevant.
"The criminal contempt statute is not intended to procure compliance; it is intended to punish past noncompliance," prosecutors wrote.
They also said that, despite the offer to testify, Bannon still hasn't produced the records subpoenaed from him in September, indicating his actions now were about "optics."
"The Defendant apparently has not told the Committee he wishes to provide documents responsive to the subpoena, so his eleventh-hour efforts do nothing to begin to cure his failure to produce records," prosecutors wrote.
"Instead, his continued failure to comply with the subpoena's document demand while claiming he now will testify suggests his actions are little more than an attempt to change the optics of his contempt on the eve of trial, not an actual effort at compliance," the prosecutors added.
Trump said in a letter over the weekend that he was willing to waive the supposed "executive privilege" for Bannon's testimony. But prosecutors argued that executive privilege "never provided a basis for total noncompliance in the first place."
Prosecutors added that Trump lawyer Justin Clark confirmed in an FBI interview that the former president "never invoked executive privilege over any particular information or material." Clark also said that Trump's counsel informed Bannon's lawyer that the earlier letter "provided no basis for total noncompliance."
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