Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House chief strategist, declined to appear in person for Monday’s preliminary hearing in Washington, D.C.His legal team suffered a series of setbacks during the trial, losing nearly every argument.
D.C. District Judge Carl Nichols ruled that Bannon’s trial could not be delayed because of the ongoing possibility of Bannon’s jury bias.. His trial is still scheduled to begin next week on July 18.
Bannon has argued that as a former White House official, he has no obligation to comply with a select committee’s subpoena when the executive branch is subpoenaed by the president. groupIn September 2021, reports surfaced that he urged former President Trump to focus on January 6 and tried to encourage members of Congress to vote against certification for the 2020 presidential election.
Nichols also ruled that Bannon could not provide a continuing defense in his investigation, including the “public authority” argument that President Donald Trump ordered him to not comply with the committee. The judge cited Trump’s status as a private citizen and the lack of evidence that Trump had ever issued such an order.
Bannon’s contention that the House violated its own rules in the Jan. 6 select committee process was also dismissed by Nichols, who said he would defer to the House on its own interpretation of its rules. Nichols became the latest in a series of judges to reject claims that the group was not legally recognized or organized.
According to Nichols’ order, prosecutors need only show Bannon willful intent to defy the committee’s Jan. 6 subpoena. They do not necessarily show “evil intent.” Bannon may not present evidence of that, according to the judge. He previously sought to argue that he was listening to the advice of his lawyers and did not know he was committing a crime by failing to appear before the panel or provide material in response to a subpoena.
However, Bannon could still argue that he was “not aware” of the subpoena deadline.
Nichols did not immediately rule on the appropriateness or acceptability of Bannon’s new offer to testify before the House panel. But the Justice Department raised doubts about BannonBefore the select committee, he called his about-face on cooperating with the panel an “attempt to change the optics” just days before his trial on charges of criminal contempt of Congress.
On Thursday, the next pretrial hearing in Bannon’s case will take up that issue.
After the hearing, Bannon’s attorney David Schoen, Jan. 6 He said he did not know whether Bannon would testify before the committee, but reiterated that Bannon was “willing to comply if they resolve the privilege issue,” and he noted that “right now, the privilege has been waived, withdrawn.”
Christina Corujo contributed to this report.