Trump says he'll waive executive privilege ahead of Steve Bannon’s Jan. 6 committee contempt trial

WASHINGTON — Former White House strategist Steve Bannon has said he's "willing" to testify before the House Jan. 6 committee after receiving a letter from former President Donald Trump waiving executive privilege, according to two letters obtained by NBC News on Sunday.

Bannon’s purported willingness to reverse course comes just over a week before jury selection is scheduled to begin in his contempt of Congress case, and after months of stonewalling the committee's investigation, now entering its final stages with two public hearings scheduled for this week.

In the letter to Bannon, Trump said that Bannon had been treated “unfairly” and had been forced to “spend vast amounts of money on legal fees” and would therefore waive executive privilege if Bannon agreed on a time and place to testify.

“I will waive Executive Privilege for you, which allows for you to go in and testify truthfully and fairly, as per the request of the Unselect Committee of political Thugs and Hacks, who have allowed no Due Process, no Cross-Examination, and no real Republican members or witnesses to be present or interviewed. It is a partisan Kangaroo Court,” the letter says.

In a separate letter to the committee, Robert Costello, a lawyer for Bannon, wrote that "Trump has decided that it would be in the best interests of the American people to waive executive privilege for Stephen K. Bannon, to allow Mr. Bannon to comply with the subpoena issued by your Committee. Mr. Bannon is willing to, and indeed prefers, to testify at your public hearing."

Costello, who communicated with the committee on Bannon’s behalf, is now seeking to withdraw as Bannon’s counsel in the contempt of Congress case because he expects to be called as a witness.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a member of the Jan. 6 committee, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that the committee had received a letter from Bannon's lawyer overnight saying that he would testify.

"I expect that we will be hearing from him," Lofgren said. "And there are many questions that we have for him."

A federal judge last month declined to dismiss contempt of Congress charges against Bannon over his refusal to cooperate with the committee.

Bannon’s lawyers had argued that under Justice Department policies, former White House officials have no legal obligation to comply with a congressional subpoena when the president has asserted executive privilege. Bannon relied on these positions “in reasonably believing that the subpoena was not valid and that compliance was not, therefore, either appropriate or required as a matter of fact and law,” his lawyers told the judge in legal papers submitted before the hearing.

That defense is not available to Bannon, the government contended, because the subpoena dealt only with his actions as a private citizen long after he left government service and because he was never directed by Trump to ignore it.

NBC News obtained the letters after a request to Bannon’s legal team.

The Guardian was first to report Bannon's lawyer's letter to the committee.

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