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Trump Guru Steve Bannon Has No Legal Standing To Refuse Testimony About Capitol Riot

Congress is correct to begin legal contempt proceedings against onetime Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and the Justice Department should prosecute them aggressively if Bannon continues his defiance.

Several of the Sunday news shows this week featured discussions of Bannon’s situation. The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is pursuing contempt charges against Bannon because he is not complying with its subpoena. Bannon says he is complying with an expected claim by Trump that Bannon is covered by executive privilege, which Trump apparently will assert regarding documents and testimony related to White House activity on that day.

Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger essentially warned Bannon, saying “don’t think you are going to able to kind of walk away.” And on Fox News Sunday, former top Bush White House aide Karl Rove wrote on one of his famous whiteboards that while he is no lawyer, he thinks it is “likely” that contempt actions will proceed and that Bannon is “probably” way off base in saying that executive privilege claims apply to him.

Let’s make this plain: Bannon is more than “probably” wrong, he’s certainly wrong — and for the very reasons Rove proceeded to give. First, to whatever extent presidents enjoy executive privilege, those grounds become quite shaky once they leave office unless subsequent presidents support the claim as necessary for crucial institutional prerogatives of the presidency. Second, even if it were the current president asserting executive privilege, the limits to privilege do not extend anywhere near Bannon’s role.

Bannon was not even a government employee on Jan. 6. Under no known circumstances and no remotely reasonable interpretation of executive privilege doctrine does the privilege extend to people not in the president’s employ. Indeed, the Supreme Court held in United States v. Nixon that in criminal proceedings, even some of a president’s communications with his closest aides are not privileged. Bannon was in no way, shape, or form a close aide of Trump, so he isn’t even in a gray area. He is well outside all such protections, no matter what Trump will claim as Trump tries to cover up the particulars of his own hideous behavior on Jan. 6.

Rove was right to say that it will “take time” for this all to be hashed out in courts, but Bannon (and Trump) certainly will lose on this front. The president is not a king, and his courtiers are hardly immune from the oversight of an elected, co-equal branch of government.

Author : Quin Hillyer

Source : Washington Examiner : Trump guru Steve Bannon has no legal standing to refuse to testify about Capitol riot

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