Bannon ‘decided he was above the law,’ says feds at trial

  • Prosecutors said Steve Bannon’s challenge to the Jan. 6 panel was a “choice.”
  • Bannon’s attorney argued that “no one believed” the Trump ally would testify in October 2021.
  • Before opening the closing arguments, Bannon’s attorneys again attempted to delay the criminal trial.

Launching Steve Bannon’s trial, federal prosecutors on Tuesday underscored their view on the simplicity of the case: The longtime Trump ally was given a deadline to respond to a subpoena from the House committee responsible for to investigate the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

And Bannon refused to comply.

“This case is about the defendant who thumbs his nose at the orderly processes of our government,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn said in opening argument to jurors.

“It’s as simple as that,” she added.

In a nearly 20-minute argument, Vaughn recounted how the House committee sought to question Bannon about his knowledge of the events leading up to the insurrection on Capitol Hill and gave him deadlines last October to report. sit down and hand over documents. Bannon then deliberately snubbed the House panel, she said, despite warnings that his challenge could result in the very criminal charges he now faces.

“It wasn’t optional. It wasn’t a request, and it wasn’t an invitation. It was mandatory,” Vaughn said. “The defendant decided he was above the law…and that is why we are here today.

“He didn’t get stuck in a broken down subway car. He just refused to follow the rules,” she added.

Vaughn’s opening argument seemed to thwart Bannon’s expected defense: that he viewed House committee deadlines as negotiable, not fixed.

In his own opening argument, Bannon’s defense attorney Evan Corcoran highlighted the Trump ally’s time as an adviser to the former president and noted his past involvement with a ” media,” in an apparent reference to Breitbart News.

“The evidence is going to be crystal clear: nobody, nobody believed that Steve Bannon was going to appear on October 14, 2021,” Corcoran said.

A grand jury indicted Bannon in November, weeks after that deadline, on a pair of contempt of Congress charges – each carrying a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of up to at $100,000.

After opening arguments on Tuesday, prosecutors called Deputy Chief of Staff and House Jan. 6 Committee Chief Counsel Kristin Amerling, who stressed the “urgency” of the congressional panel’s investigation. If Republicans regain a majority in the House in the upcoming midterm elections, they are expected to disband the January committee.

“The select committee is considering a violent assault on the United States Capitol, on law enforcement officials, on our democratic institutions. And we have limited time,” she said.

Amerling’s opening arguments and testimony came after a rocky start to the trial, as Bannon’s defense attorneys, federal prosecutors and the judge all argued over what evidence could be presented to the jury. After several failed attempts to postpone the trial, Corcoran again asked for a delay, saying the defense team needed a month to adjust its strategy in light of what he called a “seismic shift” in the case.

“There are a lot of moving parts,” Corcoran said. “We just haven’t done the kind of defensive preparation that we would have.”

United States District Court Judge Carl Nichols denied the request. But the judge, a Trump appointee confirmed in 2019, briefly granted a one-day delay as defense attorneys and prosecutors argued over the extent to which Bannon’s correspondence with the House Committee on January 6 should be redacted – or masked – in the evidence presented to jurors.

Prior to trial, Nichols issued a series of rulings that limited Bannon’s defenses, preventing him from arguing, for example, that executive privilege excused his challenge to the House Jan. 6 committee. But Nichols said Bannon could raise a defense that he believed the timelines for responding to the House committee’s Jan. 6 subpoena were negotiable, not fixed.

“I don’t think it could have been clearer,” Nichols said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.