Prosecutors Open Contempt Trial Against Steve Bannon

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Government says former Trump adviser was ‘thumbing his nose’ at congressional subpoena

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“This case is about the defendant thumbing his nose at the orderly processes of our government,” Ms. Vaughn added.

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Mr. Bannon’s lawyers disputed this allegation, saying he didn’t ignore the subpoena but rather tried to negotiate with the committee over when he would appear and what he could testify about.

“There was a lot of negotiating back and forth,” said Evan Corcoran, one of Mr. Bannon’s defense lawyers, adding: “Nobody ignored the subpoena.”

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Mr. Bannon, 68 years old, worked as a strategist during the beginning of the Trump administration but wasn’t a White House employee around the time of the 2020 election. The night before the Capitol riot, Mr. Bannon said on his podcast, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

Mr. Bannon was indicted in November on two counts of contempt of Congress after he didn’t appear for a deposition and refused to provide documents.

Mr. Bannon has pleaded not guilty, saying in court filings that he didn’t cooperate with the committee because of legal advice he received and concerns about executive privilege, a legal doctrine that protects the confidentiality of some White House communications.

US District Judge Carl Nichols, an appointee of President Donald Trump, last week blocked Mr. Bannon from directly making those arguments to the jury, saying they weren’t supported by the law. Those pretrial rulings have hobbled Mr. Bannon’s defence.

“What’s the point in going to trial here if there are no defenses?” Mr. Bannon’s defense lawyer David Schoen said last week.

If convicted, Mr. Bannon faces a maximum of one year in prison for each of the two counts he faces. Contempt of Congress charges are rare. Two officials in the 1990s pleaded guilty and were sentenced to probation before being pardoned by President George HW Bush.

Just over a week ago, Mr. Bannon made a last-minute offer to testify to the Jan. 6 committee, adding he would prefer to do so at a public hearing.

Mr. Bannon said his change of heart came after Mr. Trump waved executive privilege. Prosecutors had argued that executive privilege was never properly invoked in the first place.


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