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January 6 committee rejects Bannon’s executive privilege claim in new letter

By Zachary Cohen and Ryan Nobles, CNN

The House committee investigating January 6 sent a letter to Stephen Bannon on Friday rejecting his argument for failing to comply with the panel’s subpoena and dismissing his claim of executive privilege, particularly as it relates to his communications with individuals other than former President Donald Trump, according to a copy obtained by CNN.

News of the letter, which was addressed to Bannon’s attorney, comes as the committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday and vote on whether the Trump ally should be referred to the Justice Department for criminal contempt charges after refusing to comply with the panel’s subpoena deadline last week.

While Bannon has argued that he is unable to cooperate with the committee until matters of executive privilege are resolved by the courts, the panel’s response makes clear it believes his “willful refusal to comply with the Subpoena constitutes a violation of federal law.”

“As was explained in the Select Committee’s October 8, 2021 letter … the former President has not communicated any such assertion of privilege, whether formally or informally, to the Select Committee. Moreover, we believe that any such assertion of privilege — should it be made by the former President — will not prevent the Select Committee from lawfully obtaining the information it seeks.”

And even if the committee was “inclined to accept the unsupported premise” that executive privilege reaches communications between Bannon and Trump, the letter notes that Bannon “does not enjoy any form of absolute immunity from testifying or producing documents in response to a Congressional subpoena.”

The letter also says that Bannon has until 6 p.m. ET on Monday to submit a written response to the committee if he feels there are any other issues related to his non-compliance that have not been addressed.

CNN has reached out to Bannon’s attorney for comment. The letter was first reported by The Washington Post.

Bannon’s lawyer, Robert Costello, wrote to the committee on the night before Bannon was scheduled to appear for a private deposition, claiming the committee accusing his client of defiance was “inappropriate.” Costello said that Bannon was not ignoring the committee’s request, but was instead following Trump’s instruction in his efforts defend executive privilege. Costello also wrote that Bannon would not cooperate with the committee until an agreement was reached between the committee and Trump in regard to his privilege claims.

“Until such time as you reach an agreement with President Trump or receive a court ruling as to the extent, scope and applications of the executive privilege, in order to preserve the claim of executive and other privileges, Mr. Bannon will not be producing documents or testifying,” the letter read.

In a separate letter obtained by CNN, White House Deputy Counsel to the President Jonathan Su told Costello that the Biden administration will not support any attempt by Bannon to refuse cooperation with the panel on the grounds of executive privilege.

“As you are aware, Mr. Bannon’s tenure as a White House employee ended in 2017,” Su wrote in the letter, which is dated Monday. “To the extent any privileges could apply to Mr. Bannon’s conversations with the former President or White House staff after the conclusion of his tenure, President Biden has already determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the public interest, and therefore is not justified with respect to certain subjects within the purview of the Select Committee.”

This story has been updated with additional information Monday.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Whitney Wild and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.

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