Justice Dept Shuts Down Steve Bannon In New Court Filing

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Federal prosecutors are showing no intention of letting top Trump ally Steve Bannon run roughshod over the legal process amid criminal proceedings against him for contempt of Congress. Bannon was charged with two counts of contempt of Congress after he refused to abide by a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, and if convicted, he faces the apparent possibility of up to two years in prison (including a year on each count). In a weekend court filing, federal prosecutors accused Bannon’s legal team ‘of lodging “frivolous” legal complaints in order to cause a public dust-up with prosecutors,’ as summarized in POLITICO’s reporting.

According to that same POLITICO report, Bannon’s attorney Evan Corcoran has “repeatedly rebuffed [federal prosecutors’] efforts to negotiate an evidence-sharing agreement, a standard part of the process in criminal trials.” In place of routine negotiations with prosecutors along these lines, Bannon’s side lodged a public court filing and released a statement to The Washington Post containing complaints regarding the proceedings. As Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn summarized it, Bannon’s team’s “misleading claims, failure to confer, unexplained wholesale opposition, and extrajudicial statements make clear the defense’s real purpose: to abuse criminal discovery to try this case in the media rather than in court.”

Bannon himself has previously made antagonistic public remarks about the proceedings. He said, for instance, that his case would be “the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden,” because he’d be going “on the offense” — although there’s no particular indication that any of that is anything but hot air. Vaughn added that the “misleading and frivolous nature of the defendant’s claims of prejudice demonstrate that they are just a cover for the real reason the defendant opposes a protective order in this case and which he and his counsel have expressed in their extrajudicial statements — that the defendant wishes to have trial through the press.”

As further summarized in POLITICO, Bannon’s team claims that prosecutors are trying to block the longtime Trump ally from publicly discussing documents that are already available publicly, including letters from his legal team to the riot investigation committee discussing his refusal to comply with the original subpoena, but federal authorities say that Bannon’s team “never engaged with them to discuss modifying the agreement to permit public disclosure of documents that had already been in the public domain — an accommodation they said they would have readily accepted.” Bannon’s team is, in other words, claiming there to be obstruction on the part of federal prosecutors when they’re the ones refusing to meaningfully engage. Read more here.