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The judge will not delay the trial of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon

WASHINGTON – A federal judge on Monday refused to delay the pending trial of Steve Bannon, a former adviser to former President Donald Trump, who faces charges of contempt of Congress after refusing for months to cooperate with a House committee investigating the Capitol riot in 6th of January.

Bannon is still scheduled to appear in court next week, although he told a House committee late Saturday that he is now ready to testify. It is unclear whether Bannon will again refuse to appear before the committee with the pending trial.

Bannon was also barred from making several potential defenses or calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or House committee members. The series of rulings by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols prompted one of his lawyers to complain that the former senior White House official, now host of the Bannon War Room podcast, would not be able to defend himself at all.

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Barring an appeals court decision or other delay, the trial will begin while the commission continues its high-profile hearings on the riot. Testimony from former White House aides revealed new claims that Trump knew the crowd was heavily armed and that he tried to join the people marching on the Capitol.

Nichols also barred Bannon’s lawyers from arguing that the committee violated House rules by subpoenaing Bannon or that Bannon resisted the subpoena on the advice of his counsel or at Trump’s behest.

And Nichols refused to delay the trial from its current July 18 start, saying any concerns about publicity before the hearings could be addressed during jury selection. If it proves impossible to select an impartial jury, the judge said he will reconsider the possibility of a postponement.

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Bannon could potentially argue that he thought the deadline to respond to the subpoena might not have been “operational” or that the response date might have been moved, said Nichols, who was nominated for the judgeship by Trump.

The rulings prompted one of Bannon’s lawyers, David Schoen, to speak in frustration as he sought clarification from the judge.

“What’s the point of having a trial here if there’s no defense?” Schoen asked.

“Agreed,” Nichols replied.

Bannon did not appear in court Monday. Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Schoen said he doubted Bannon could effectively defend himself given Nichols’ rulings and hinted he would appeal.

“He’s the judge,” Schoen said of Nichols. “That’s why they have an appeals court.”

Bannon, 68, has been one of Trump’s most prominent allies, refusing to testify before the committee, which led to two criminal contempt charges against Congress last year for resisting a committee subpoena. He previously argued that his testimony was protected by Trump’s claims of executive privilege.

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Trump has repeatedly asserted executive privilege — even as a former president — to try to block testimony and the release of White House documents. In January, the Supreme Court ruled against Trump’s efforts to prevent the National Archives from cooperating with the committee, after a lower court judge noted, in part: “Presidents are not kings.”

The committee also noted that Trump fired Bannon from the White House in 2017, and therefore Bannon was a private individual when he consulted with the then-president in the run-up to the rebellion.

Bannon was indicted in November on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress, a month after the Justice Department received a referral from Congress. Each charge carries a minimum of 30 days in jail and one year behind bars.

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Speaking to reporters after his arrest, Bannon said he was “taking on the Biden regime” and added, “It’s going to be a crime from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden.”

But Bannon contacted the committee over the weekend after Trump issued a letter saying he would waive any claim to executive privilege to testify before what the former president called an “unselect committee of political thugs and hacks.” .

Federal prosecutors argued Monday that Bannon’s new offer to appear would not change any crime committed by the earlier failure to appear. Randall Eliason, a former prosecutor who now teaches law at George Washington University, agreed.

“This is criminal contempt,” Eliason said. “You cannot delete the charge by choosing to show up later.”

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Associated Press reporter Gary Fields contributed to this report.

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For complete coverage of the Jan. 6 hearings, go to https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.

The judge will not delay the trial of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon

Source link The judge will not delay the trial of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon

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