Amid preparations for a trial next month on contempt of Congress charges against longtime Trump goon Steve Bannon, federal authorities have asked for a set of restrictions on what Bannon’s side can bring up at trial in light of his penchant for theatrics.
Things prosecutors hoped for Bannon to be restricted from bringing up include arguments about the legitimacy — or supposed lack thereof — of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, discussions of other individuals who didn’t face prosecution after not complying with a Congressional subpoena, and more, including that executive privilege supposedly meant Bannon didn’t have to comply with the riot panel’s subpoena that set off the contempt case.
“This case is about whether the Defendant was subpoenaed and whether he showed up thereafter. The Court should not allow him to make it about anything else and should grant this motion to exclude irrelevant evidence and argument at trial… In his filings, at oral argument, and during press conferences in front of the courthouse, the Defendant has repeatedly sought to inject into this case improper evidence and argument, make incendiary and baseless political attacks, and create a spectacle,” a filing from the government said. (“Defendant” refers to Bannon.) Bannon recently lost an attempt to get the entire case against him dismissed. In another perceptible setback, the judge handling all of this — federal Judge Carl Nichols — already ruled Bannon won’t be able to argue he was simply going off his lawyer’s advice in refusing to cooperate with the riot panel after getting subpoenaed.
Past conclusions from Nichols suggest he may be inclined to grant restrictions on Bannon’s side sought by prosecutors. In outlining his decision to leave the contempt case against Bannon in place, Nichols “contended that there’s insufficient evidence that Trump truly did assert privilege or seek to block Bannon from testifying” to the riot committee, as reported by POLITICO. (When dealing with those arguments, Nichols delivered initial conclusions orally.) As reported on this site, that would make the legitimacy of any executive 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.
Meanwhile, Bannon isn’t alone in facing prosecution for contempt of Congress because of refusing to cooperate with the January 6 committee. Peter Navarro, who unlike Bannon had an official White House role when the Capitol riot happened, was also recently charged, while authorities opted against charging former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and fellow former Trump official Dan Scavino, Jr. — decisions met with quick scrutiny from members of the riot panel. (All four were originally found in contempt by the committee and later referred for prosecution by the full House.) “While today’s indictment of Peter Navarro was the correct decision by the Justice Department, we find the decision to reward Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino for their continued attack on the rule of law puzzling,” committee leaders Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said.