Federal Judge Carl Nichols has upheld the criminal charges of contempt of Congress against Trump goon Steve Bannon, who was hit with those charges because of his refusal to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. Nichols rejected a motion from Bannon to dismiss the case against him.
Nichols delivered his ruling orally. The judge “rebuffed a series of arguments Bannon had lodged, including that Trump had asserted executive privilege to block his former aide’s testimony,” as Politico explains it, adding: “Nichols contended that there’s insufficient evidence that Trump truly did assert privilege or seek to block Bannon from testifying to the panel the House created to investigate the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 and related events.” That would make the legitimacy of any privilege claim an irrelevant argument, since the idea is there may not have even been such a claim. Nichols also refused to go along with arguments that actions of the riot committee — including the subpoena Bannon defied — lack appropriate legal foundations because there’s no official House GOP leadership involvement.
It’s House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s fault there’s no such involvement; he punitively withdrew all his selections for the panel after Nancy Pelosi rejected a couple of them. “The court cannot conclude as a matter of law that the committee was invalidly constituted,” Nichols said. He’s not the first federal judge to make such a conclusion; another, Timothy Kelly, upheld the panel’s legitimacy and observed the “House views the Select Committee to be duly constituted and empowered to act… even though the Select Committee has only nine members.” Kelly pointed to evidence for that conclusion including the House’s repeated approvals of contempt findings made by the riot panel — evidence to which Nichols also pointed in these more recent developments. Bannon’s trial on these contempt of Congress allegations is set for July, although his side might seek to delay it, according to indications from his lawyer David Schoen.
Nichols also rejected an argument from Bannon that he was immune from the riot committee’s original subpoena because of internal Justice Department opinions regarding what sound like executive privilege matters. Nichols indicated he hadn’t seen convincing evidence those opinions applied to Bannon — neither Bannon nor Trump are, of course, currently in government positions, and Bannon wasn’t in a government position in the main time period under investigation by the riot panel.
In separate recent developments, fellow Trump goon Peter Navarro, who was also criminally charged for contempt of Congress in relation to his refusal to comply with the riot panel, recently lost in his attempt to get a 45-day delay of his arraignment that is scheduled for this Friday. Navarro was apparently seeking, among other things, a chance to get legal representation set up, and he wanted a block on new motions from federal prosecutors during his unsuccessfully sought after delay — which seems ridiculous on its face. Navarro was also hit with a protective order restricting him from publicly disclosing certain items provided by the federal government in the discovery process.