Federal Judge Shoots Down Steve Bannon Attempt To Stall Proceedings

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A federal judge has scheduled top Trump ally Steve Bannon’s trial on two contempt of Congress charges for July of next year, which is months ahead of the October timeframe that Bannon’s side had been after for the trial. The charges are connected to Bannon’s refusal to abide by a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. Claims of executive privilege have been raised in Bannon’s defense, but (alongside other issues), Bannon didn’t even work for the federal government during the time period under scrutiny, although executive privilege is generally used to shield things including internal government deliberations.

Federal prosecutors had been seeking an April trial date for Bannon, saying that they’d need just a single day to present testimony in the case. Besides Bannon’s side’s push for a later date, the top Trump ally’s team also pushed the idea that the trial would take at least 10 days. Although federal Judge Carl Nichols — the judge who set the trial date — said that prosecutors had been angling to move “at light speed,” he also observed that those involved “don’t need ten months to do this,” as Bannon had requested.

NBC notes, among other things, that it’s “now clear that an important issue in the case will be whether Bannon can argue that he should not be convicted because he acted on the advice of his lawyer in refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoena.” It’s been found in the past in certain contexts that taking action in line with advice from a lawyer constitutes a “legitimate defense,” NBC adds, although prosecutors have challenged the notion that the defense should be accepted here. Read more on Bannon at this link.

For now, the riot investigation committee is continuing to pursue testimony from other witnesses — 250 of whom have spoken to the panel in some form so far. After former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows announced that he wouldn’t be complying with a subpoena from the panel after all, committee leaders Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said that the panel would move to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress and refer him for prosecution in the event that he didn’t show up for his scheduled deposition.