The legal jeopardy for Steve Bannon is anticipated after it emerged in a letter to his attorney, obtained by the Guardian on Monday, that he had claimed executive privilege protections on materials unrelated to the executive branch.
The House select committee chairman, Bennie Thompson, also said in the letter that even if the panel entertained the claims of executive privilege, Bannon had no basis to ignore the order since not even a president could grant him immunity from a House subpoena.
The dual legal arguments in the letter, which served as Bannon’s final warning to cooperate a day before the select committee is expected to hold him in contempt of Congress, underscores the weakness of the executive privilege claim advanced by Donald Trump.
The Guardian first reported that the former president would instruct his top four aides subpoenaed by the select committee – White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, his deputy Dan Scavino, defense department aide Kash Patel, as well as Bannon, his former chief strategist – to defy the orders.
But even though Bannon is alone in defying a subpoena after Meadows and Patel were “engaging” with the panel over the potential scope of their cooperation and Scavino was served late, the letter shows similar attempts to invoke executive privilege appear treacherous.