While on trial this week for contempt of Congress, former Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon has considered the possibility that he could take the witness stand. While the defendants rarely testify in their own defense, the trial may be the only time Bannon will testify under oath, as the contempt charge makes it less likely he will ever speak to lawmakers.
Bannon is charged with disobeying subpoena requests from the House Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. The committee asked him for testimony and documents, particularly about his conversations with President Donald Trump on January 5 and 6, 2021. Bannon refused, claiming executive privileges.
But the charges against Bannon make it harder, not easier, to get his testimony. As a defendant, he has the right to refuse to answer questions and has a legal strategy for trials and possible appeals against testimony from Congress. When Bannon offered to speak to the committee earlier this month, prosecutors said it was irrelevant what Bannon claims he could do now; What mattered was that when faced with a congressional subpoena and a deadline, he gave them nothing.
In that sense, the trial can serve as a caution and warning — not to Bannon, but to anyone else who would flatly refuse to deal with the Jan. 6 committee or any other portion of Congress.