The Justice Department is, as could be expected, now opposing a recent request by Trump goon Steve Bannon to delay his trial on contempt of Congress allegations. Bannon’s side claimed ongoing public proceedings of the House riot committee have resulted in an “unprecedented level of prejudicial pretrial publicity,” which prosecutors say is nonsense.
That sort of pretrial publicity could, one might imagine, unfairly sway potential members of Bannon’s jury against him. However, Bannon isn’t anywhere near a main focus of the hearings that are getting put on by the House panel. A recent high-profile hearing featuring former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, which set a viewership record for the committee’s recent daytime hearings, didn’t mention him by name once. Bannon’s original contempt of Congress charges relate to his refusal to comply with the riot panel, but despite that refusal, the investigation has been able to move forward, because the investigation doesn’t end with him — nowhere near it, in fact. Committee members have heard from over 1,000 people, and more are coming forward.
Bannon’s trial is scheduled for this month. The Justice Department filed its request Friday for Bannon’s bid for a delay to be rejected. “The Defendant’s motion gives the false impression — through general statistics about the volume of viewership of the Committee’s hearings and overall media coverage of the Committee’s hearings — that all of the Committee’s hearings and the attendant media coverage is about him,” department lawyers said in a court filing. “The truth is just the opposite — the Defendant has barely been mentioned in the Committee’s hearings or the resulting media coverage of them.” “Defendant” refers to Bannon. According to reporter Scott MacFarlane, Justice Department lawyers also said Bannon “is not charged with a crime for his conduct on January 6, 2021; he has barely been mentioned in the Committee’s hearings; and there are not unique issues related to material in the Committee’s possession that could become public.”
In other words, at present and in potential future circumstances, the committee just isn’t posing any apparent problem to conducting Bannon’s trial. The next public hearing the panel conducts will deal with extremist groups that participated in the Capitol riot, according to committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Such groups would include the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers; individuals connected to both organizations have been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection to the riot. Just recently, Oath Keepers members lost their attempt to see their seditious conspiracy charges dismissed. “Our very next hearing will be focused on the efforts to assemble that mob on the mall, who was participating, who was financing it, how it was organized, including the participation of these white nationalist groups like the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters and others,” Schiff explained Sunday.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) — another member of the riot committee — indicated this weekend that additional witnesses had come forward since Hutchinson’s testimony, although he also indicated that the committee was dealing with a pretty consistent stream of people coming forward. In other words, attempts by Trump and others to feverishly push back on the work of the riot committee aren’t working. Its investigation is continuing.