Bernie Kerik Agrees to Testify at Jan. 6 Committee — but Only in Public

Bernie Kerik (Spencer Platt / Getty)
Spencer Platt / Getty

Former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik says he will testify before the U.S. House committee on the January 6 riot at the Capitol, but only if his testimony happens in public, a condition observers say the committee is likely to reject.

In a letter to committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and published by Politico, Kerik’s attorney noted that former President Donald Trump had agreed to waive executive privilege with regard to Kerik’s testimony if it took place in public:

As we have previously discussed, the materials that Mr. Kerik possesses which are responsive to the subpoena are substantially all exempt from disclosure because of privilege. Mr. Kerik still very much wants to cooperate, and we have obtained a contingent privilege waiver from President Trump to “comply with the subpoena with a public hearing.” I am waiting on confirmation from the Committee that the private deposition will be cancelled in favor of a public hearing so that this privilege waiver can be perfected and I can proceed with providing the documents.

Mr. Kerik’s desire to cooperate with this Committee and provide all of the documents and information in his possession remains unchanged. We are happy that President Trump has offered a path to be able to provide this information under a valid privilege waiver and look forward to the opportunity to do so. For these reasons, we urge this Committee to agree to have Mr. Kerik’s testimony made publicly so that the American people can understand and have confidence in our processes.

Politico‘s Betsy Woodruff notes that “the committee is unlikely to accept these terms he’s laid out.” Earlier this year, the committee held hearings in public, raising the question as to why Kerik and others would be required to testify in private.

In the 2019 impeachment investigation into President Trump, House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — who is also on the January 6 committee — held depositions in private, using them to screen potential witnesses. Reports about the testimony of those witnesses — often highly inaccurate — was then leaked to the public to damage the president. Schiff never gave witnesses whose testimony was considered largely favorable to the president a chance to testify in public.

Kerik told Breitbart News on Sunday that he was also willing to testify if the committee apologized for “fabricated” claims that he attended a meeting on January 5 in Washington, DC, with other people alleged to have information about the riot.

Kerik’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, reiterated Kerik’s objection to the claims made by the committee about his involvement:

I am sure you can appreciate that there is a deficit of trust here based on your publication of undeniably false allegations and subsequent refusal to correct the public record or apologize.

Unfortunately, this compels me to ask again, since we all now agree that your letter contained materially false information, why are you refusing to make a public correction? To publicly acknowledge what your staff has already privately admitted would go a long way to increase the credibility of your Committee.

Others who have been subpoenaed by the committee have yet to respond. Former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, who was also once executive chairman of Breitbart News, was found in contempt of Congress and is being prosecuted by the Department of Justice for his refusal to comply with his subpoena over ongoing legal concerns about executive privilege.

The committee is dominated by Democrats; the only two Republicans are both outspoken opponents of Trump. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in an unprecedented move, rejected the Republican caucus’s nominees to the committee.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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