Jan. 6 Panel Puts Steve Bannon On Public Notice Ahead Of Trial

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The House committee investigating the Capitol riot isn’t interested in glibly going along with whatever Trump goon Steve Bannon wants to happen in relation to his contempt of Congress case as he approaches trial.

Bannon was charged with contempt of Congress after he refused to cooperate with the riot investigation committee, which subpoenaed documents and testimony from him. He’s now indicated a willingness to testify to the committee, but he’s yet to comply with the demand for documents. Federal prosecutors characterized Bannon’s sudden willingness to appear before the riot panel as basically just a stunt and requested evidence related to it to be excluded at his upcoming trial. As the prosecutors laid it out, criminal contempt measures are meant as a means of punishment rather than obtaining compliance. Anything he does now doesn’t change his initial refusal to cooperate. Riot committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) indicated the committee would apparently refrain from engaging with Bannon on his offer to testify until he complies with the document demands.

“Thompson said that the committee won’t engage with Bannon about his belated agreement to testify until he provides the documents they subpoenaed — a step he still hasn’t taken,” as summarized on Wednesday by journalist Kyle Cheney. Any previous impressions Bannon struck a specific agreement with the committee to testify were, it seems, premature. Thompson indicated a similar position on Tuesday, according to CNN’s Manu Raju. Asked if he anticipates Bannon testifying, Thompson told Raju: “Not yet… In order for us to consider, he has agreed to comply with the items in the subpoena.” That would include the demands for documents.

Bannon indicated a willingness to testify at some point in conjunction with a letter from Trump saying he’d waive executive privilege for Bannon’s hypothetical testimony — although it wasn’t clear Trump previously invoked executive privilege. The filing from prosecutors asking for evidence about Bannon’s willingness to testify to be kept out of his trial revealed Trump lawyer Justin Clark met with the Justice Department and confirmed Trump never specifically invoked executive privilege in relation to Bannon’s testimony. According to prosecutors’ summary, Clark revealed Trump “never invoked executive privilege over any particular information or materials” — meaning, as summarized in the filing, there’s been little substantive change behind Bannon’s sudden interest in testifying besides his imminent trial, which could end with jail-time for the Trump ally if he’s convicted.

Bannon was hoping to get his trial delayed to October on the basis of an array of arguments including supposed negative impacts on the jury pool for his trial from publicity associated with the proceedings of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, which could ostensibly foster prejudice against him. Bannon isn’t a main focus of the proceedings. Federal Judge Carl Nichols ruled this week against Bannon’s attempt to get his trial delayed, but Bannon filed another push for the delay after this Tuesday’s committee hearing, which briefly mentioned him. Nichols also dealt Bannon other losses: among other items, Nichols shot down attempts to use executive privilege arguments in Bannon’s defense. “Nichols says Bannon cannot present evidence that he relied on internal DOJ opinions or assertions of executive privilege,” Cheney summarized.