Steve Bannon is willing to testify at Capitol riot hearing
Donald Trump's former close adviser Steve Bannon has told the congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that he is ready to testify, according to Reuters. A change of heart days before he is due to be tried for contempt of Congress.
Bannon is scheduled to go on trial July 18 on two criminal contempt charges for refusing to testify or provide documents.
In a letter to the committee Bannon's lawyer Robert Costello, said Bannon preferred to testify publicly, but Representative Zoe Lofgren, a committee Democrat, told CNN that ordinarily the committee takes a deposition behind closed doors.
On June 28, it was revealed that Trump and his aides knew that the rally he held near the White House on January 6 was likely to escalate into an attack on the Capitol. A testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to the White House chief of staff, offered the clearest evidence yet that Trump knew violence was possible.
A far-right group with a recent history of political violence, the Proud Boys planned to be in Washington on January 6 and Hutchinson heard the group discuss it before Trump’s rally, when Rudy Giuliani was present and said it would be “a great day.”
Trump wanted the Secret Service to let armed supporters into his rally. “Take the f-ing mags away,” Hutchinson overheard Trump say, referring to the magnetometers used to screen attendees. “They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in.”
After learning he was instead being driven back to the White House, Hutchinson testified, Trump said “I’m the f-ing president. Take me to the Capitol now”, and tried to wrest the steering wheel from his driver.
"Her Fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House Limousine in order to steer it to the Capitol Building is sick and fraudulent," Trump wrote on Truth Social, his social media app.
Hutchinson also testified that the top White House lawyer, Pat Cipollone, was gravely concerned about President Donald Trump facing criminal charges if he went to the Capitol on January 6 along with the protesters. Cipollone didn’t deny it.
Cipollone said something like, “Please make sure that we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy", Hutchinson told the January 6 Select Committee of a conversation she had with him. "We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen."
Yes, although the committee investigating the January 6 attack itself, can’t actually file those charges, explains Phillip Bump, national correspondent of The Washington Post. What it can do is make a criminal referral to the Justice Department saying they think they should file “X” charges.
In a court filing, the committee argued they believe Trump is guilty of at least two charges: Obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States. But he could face more, like the ones stemming from the fundraising practices that Trump’s campaign was using in the weeks after the election, for example, says Bump.
“That’s the big unknown”, says the correspondent.“They have the evidence to do it, but there’s a political side to it”, he adds. Charging a former US president with criminal charges is “a big deal”, and something they’ll think a lot about, according to Bump.
Nevertheless, the case for prosecuting Trump just got stronger, David French of The Dispatch argues. Legal experts told The Times that Hutchinson’s testimony raised the likelihood that Trump would face criminal charges.
The committee described phone calls to witnesses, made by Trump allies, that it suggested were meant to intimidate the witnesses.
Hutchinson testified that Trump, enraged by a denial from his attorney general that the election was stolen, threw his lunch against a White House wall.
Most of Hutchinson’s testimony, which was under oath, referred to conversations she witnessed or to events that other Trump aides described to her. “Hutchinson is joining the lineup of explosive witnesses to appear at congressional hearings,” The Times’s Carl Hulse wrote.
The Times compared Hutchinson to Oliver North, who testified about the Iran-contra scandal, and John Dean, who testified about Watergate. Hutchinson reminds us that being a public servant means stepping up to do hard things, Times Opinion’s Michelle Cottle wrote.
The House panel is due to hold public hearings on Tuesday and Thursday this week.