WASHINGTON – Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the trial of Steve Bannon, a former adviser to former President Donald Trump, who faces charges of criminal contempt of Congress after refusing for months to cooperate with a House committee on representatives investigating January 6, 2021 Capitol Uprising.
Bannon is accused in federal court in Washington of defying a Jan. 6 subpoena from the committee seeking his records and testimony. He 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.
The trial follows a flurry of activity in the case since July 9. More than a week ago, the former White House strategist notified the committee that he was ready to testify. His former lawyer, Robert Costello, said the change was because Trump waived his claim of executive privilege to prevent the testimony.
Bannon, 68, was one of Trump’s most prominent associates who refused to testify before the committee. He argued that his testimony was protected by Trump’s claim of executive privilege, which allows presidents to withhold confidential information from the courts and the executive branch.
Trump has repeatedly asserted executive privilege — despite being a former president — to try to block testimony and the release of White House documents. In January, the Supreme Court ruled against Trump’s effort to prevent the National Archives from cooperating with the committee after a lower judge — Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is now on the Supreme Court — remarked 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 citizen when he consulted with the then-president in the run-up to the rebellion.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols denied requests to delay the trial in separate hearings last week, including Thursday, when Bannon’s lawyers raised concerns about a CNN report that has since aired about their client and what they said were biased comments. made during a hearing last week held by the House committee investigating the riot.
“I’m aware of the current concerns about publicity and bias and whether we can empanel a jury that will be appropriate and fair, but as I’ve said before, I believe the appropriate course is to go through the voir dire process,” Nichols said Thursday, referring to questioned individual jurors before they were selected. The judge said he intended to get a jury that “will be appropriate, fair and impartial.”
While the judge allowed the trial to proceed, Nichols left open the possibility that Trump’s privilege waiver letters and Bannon’s offer to cooperate with the committee could be subpoenaed at trial, saying the information was “at least potentially relevant” to Bannon’s defense.
Roscoe Howard Jr., a former U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., said Bannon’s best case is if word of his offer to cooperate gets to the jury. Even if it does, the claim that executive privilege prevented him from cooperating earlier will be a difficult argument because Bannon has refused to respond to the subpoena, Howard said.
“You must appear to invoke the privilege claim. You can’t turn it on over the phone,” he said.
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The trial is expected to begin against former Trump adviser Steve Bannon
Source link The trial is expected to begin against former Trump adviser Steve Bannon