Bannon’s lawyer told the committee that “executive privileges belong to President Trump” and “we must accept his leadership and honor his invocation of executive privilege.”
Bannon’s legal team letter goes on to say that it may be up to the courts to decide whether he is ultimately forced to cooperate – in essence, daring the House to prosecute him or hold him in criminal contempt.
“As such, until these issues are resolved, we will not be able to respond to your request for documents and testimony,” wrote attorney, Robert Costello.
The letter, sent to the committee on Thursday, came after an attorney for former President Donald Trump told subpoena targets, including Bannon, not to comply with congressional requests for testimony and documents. which could relate to privileged documents.
The claim that Bannon could be covered by the former president’s privilege is unusual as Bannon was not working for the federal government during the time surrounding the Jan.6 insurgency.
Claims of privilege normally apply to relatives of the president and deliberations between government employees, and Bannon was fired from his role as White House adviser in 2017.
Many legal experts say Bannon, as a private citizen, would not have standing to block a subpoena on the basis of executive privilege.
Bannon’s legal team has also indicated that Bannon will comply with court rulings on the matter.
“We will comply with the court’s instructions, when and if they rule on these claims of the privileges of executive clients and lawyers,” the letter said. “Since these privileges belong to President Trump and not Mr. Bannon, until these issues are resolved, Mr. Bannon is legally unable to comply with your requests for subpoena of documents and testimony.”
Committee says Meadows and Patel are “engaged”
All document requests were due Thursday, and former Trump staff have been invited to appear before the committee next week.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, and Vice President Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, said former Trump officials Mark Meadows and Kash Patel were “so far engaged” with the panel.
It is not clear whether former Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino responded.
In the letter seen by CNN, a lawyer for Trump advised them to “where appropriate, invoke immunities and privileges” and not to provide documents or testimony.
A spokesperson for the committee declined to comment.
A legal fight could take a little while and Democrats could face the 2022 midterm election deadline.
“While Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patel are, so far, in contact with the select committee, Mr. Bannon has indicated he will try to hide behind vague references to the former president’s privileges. The select committee fully expects all of these witnesses to comply with our requests for documents and testimony, ”said Thompson and Cheney.
In their statement, Thompson and Cheney say the committee will act “swiftly” against those who refuse to comply with a legal subpoena, including seeking to hold them in criminal contempt, as they attempt to dispel the lawsuits. fears that the committee will not act. strong enough.
“While the select committee welcomes the good faith engagement with witnesses seeking to cooperate with our investigation, we will not allow any witnesses to defy a legal subpoena or attempt to miss the allotted time, and we will promptly consider d ‘advance criminal contempt of referral to Congress, “they said.
Bannon’s relationship with Trump
In Meadows, the committee wrote that the investigation revealed “credible evidence of your involvement in events as part of the select committee investigation,” citing its closeness to Trump on the day of the attack. The committee is also interested in learning more about Meadows’ efforts to help reverse the 2020 election results.
When the subpoenas were first issued, House Select chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, told CNN’s Manu Raju that criminal contempt was “on the table” if the people for whom the committee had sent subpoenas did not cooperate.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Annie Grayer, Zachary Cohen, Whitney Wild and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.