(CNN) — Steve Bannon, who defied a congressional subpoena and is set to go to trial on criminal contempt charges, told the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection on Saturday that he is now willing to testify, ideally in a public hearing, according to a letter obtained by CNN.
Bannon’s reversal comes after he received a letter from former President Donald Trump waiving executive privilege, though both the House select committee and federal prosecutors maintain the privilege claim never gave Bannon carte blanche to ignore. a congressional subpoena first.
“When you first received the subpoena to testify and provide documents, I invoked Executive Privilege. However, I saw how unfairly you and others have been treated, having to spend vast amounts of money on legal fees and all the trauma that you must go through.” passing by out of love for his country and out of respect for the office of the president,” Trump wrote in a Saturday letter to Bannon, which was also obtained by CNN.
“Therefore, if you come to an agreement on a time and place for your testimony, I will waive Executive Privilege for you, allowing you to come in and testify truthfully and fairly,” Trump added, later denouncing the commission. of “Criminals and Hackers”.
The letters were first reported by TheGuardian.
Bannon was indicted last year on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress. He has argued that he was free to ignore his subpoena from Congress to protect Trump’s potential privilege claims. But federal prosecutors and other legal experts have argued that the privilege does not apply to Bannon, who left his White House post as chief strategist years before the Capitol unrest, and did not give him the authority to refuse to provide documents. or testimony to the commission.
Bannon’s team delivered Trump’s new letter to the January 6 commission overnight, along with a letter from Bannon’s attorney, Bob Costello.
“While Mr. Bannon has remained steadfast in his convictions, circumstances have now changed,” Costello wrote. “Mr. Bannon is willing, and in fact prefers, to testify at his public hearing.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat who is part of the Jan. 6 panel, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” on Sunday that the committee has not yet had a chance to discuss Bannon’s letter. , but that “I hope we will hear from him and there are many questions we have for him”.
Lofgren, however, said Bannon’s public testimony was unlikely, noting that the commission generally makes statements. “This goes on hour after hour after hour. We want to get all of our questions answered, and you can’t do that in a live format,” he said.
The January 6 commission was interested in speaking with Bannon about his communications with Trump in December 2020, when Bannon allegedly urged him to focus on the January 6 certification of the presidential election results. Committee members were also interested in Bannon’s comments in the run-up to the Capitol insurrection, including a Jan. 5 podcast in which he predicted, “Tomorrow all hell will break loose.”
Bannon, who has pleaded not guilty to his contempt charges, was to go on trial on July 18. Testifying would not necessarily clear him of the criminal contempt charges he faces, so it is unclear how his upcoming trial would be affected if Bannon reaches an agreement with the commission to testify. He is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing in his case on Monday.
A commission spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CNN’s Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.