Lawyers for Steve Bannon argued on Tuesday that the contempt of Congress charges against the former Trump adviser were politically motivated – but prosecutors countered that a subpoena from the House Select Committee set up to investigate the Capitol riot “wasn’t optional”.
“It wasn’t a request, and it wasn’t an invitation. It was mandatory,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn said during opening statements at Bannon’s contempt trial in Washington, DC. “[Bannon’s] the non-compliance was deliberate. It wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t a mistake. It was a choice. »
Vaughn said Bannon believed he was “above the law”.
Bannon, 68, initially refused to cooperate with the select committee’s investigation into the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot, where a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol building to disrupt victory certification. of Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
Trump’s former adviser had claimed “executive privilege” that shields certain presidential information from publication, but Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols dismissed that defense in a ruling last week.
Bannon’s attorneys said Tuesday that the former White House strategist was in the midst of negotiating with the committee and believed a compliance deadline had been flexible.
“No one ignored the subpoena,” attorney Evan Corcoran said. “They did what lawyers do. They negotiated.
Corcoran said “politics pervades every decision” made by the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, Politico reported.
“Ask yourself: is this piece of evidence affected by politics? he said, according to the news site.
The select committee’s general counsel, Kristin Amerling, went against the idea that timelines were ever-changing, with the committee’s authority ending with a new Congress due to take office in 2022.
“The Select Committee is considering a violent attack on the United States Capitol, on law enforcement, on our democratic institutions. We have limited time,” said Amerling, the first prosecution witness, according to Reuters.
The committee wanted to talk to Bannon, who was no longer working for Trump at the time of the riot, about what he knew before the siege. He made comments on a Jan. 5 podcast stating that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow” after speaking to Trump earlier in the day, the select committee revealed during a hearing last week.
Bannon’s trial begins as the Jan. 6 panel continues a series of live hearings that produced allegations about the 45e president and his team before the violence at the Capitol.
Jury selection in Bannon’s trial included attorneys who questioned potential jurors about how many hearings they had viewed.
Bannon faces a minimum of 60 days in jail and up to two years behind bars if convicted and could be fined up to $2,000.
With post wires