As part of the prosecution of Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress, Department of Justice investigators have interviewed Justin Clark, attorney for President Donald Trump.
Prosecutors revealed they spoke with Clark in court papers filed on Monday in the case against the former Trump advisor set to go to trial beginning July 18. The contempt charges against Bannon stem from his refusal to testify before Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s January 6 Committee because of executive privilege belonging to President Trump.
Trump has recently provided Bannon with written confirmation that he has waived executive privilege regarding testimony he might give to the committee.
The interview with Clark was conducted on June 29 as prosecutors appear intent on continuing the case against Bannon despite his willingness to now testify before the committee. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn wrote that Clark’s interview confirmed the DOJ’s belief that Trump had not invoked executive privilege to stop Bannon from testifying earlier.
Vaughn also said in the papers filed with the court that the timing of Bannon’s willingness to testify is the result of his being forced to “face the consequences of his decision to default.” She went on to describe Bannon’s “sudden wish to testify” as a “last-ditch effort” to avoid the contempt charge.
Vaughn also said in the papers that Clark’s statements contradicted claims made by Bannon’s defense attorneys. Bannon’s team had previously said that Trump’s claim of executive privilege was communicated to him through communications with Clark.
Clark allegedly told investigators that President Trump never invoked executive privilege over any specific documents or information. Investigators also said that Clark said he was never asked to attend Bannon’s deposition or other testimony before the committee.
The prosecutor told the court that Bannon’s attorneys were provided with a copy of the FBI report on the interview with Clark one day after it was conducted, on June 30.
Bannon’s attorneys cited the Clark interview in their request last week to delay the trial until October.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols ruled on Monday that the trial will not be delayed, despite Bannon’s willingness to now cooperate. Judge Nichols also ruled on a number of other pre-trial motions. Some of the court’s rulings eliminated potential defenses that Bannon’s attorneys said he intended to raise.
Upon hearing the rulings in the courtroom Monday, Bannon attorney David Schoen asked the judge, “What is the point of going to trial here if there are no defenses?”
Nichols suggested to Schoen that Bannon should consider that problem, implying that he believes the defense should work on a plea agreement to settle the case.