Government says Bannon ignored subpoena, acted above the law

Jul 18, 2022, 9:10 PM | Updated: Jul 20, 2022, 9:10 am

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon arrives at federal court for the second day of jury sele...

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon arrives at federal court for the second day of jury selection in his contempt-of-Congress trial, Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


              Former White House strategist Steve Bannon departs the federal courthouse, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Washington. Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Bannon, a one-time adviser to former President Donald Trump, who faces criminal contempt of Congress charges after refusing for months to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
            
              Former White House strategist Steve Bannon arrives at federal court for the second day of jury selection in his contempt-of-Congress trial, Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
            
              Former White House strategist Steve Bannon arrives at federal court for the second day of jury selection in his contempt-of-Congress trial, Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors called their first witness to the stand Tuesday and began building their case that former Trump adviser Steve Bannon willfully ignored a congressional subpoena in open defiance of the U.S. government.

Bannon, a longtime adviser and strategist for former President Donald Trump, was brought to trial on a pair of federal charges for criminal contempt of Congress after refusing for months to cooperate with the House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

Under questioning Tuesday from Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn, Kristin Amerling, the chief counsel for the Jan. 6 committee, went through a detailed explanation of the committee’s role, the Bannon subpoena and why the panel felt it was important to compel his testimony. Amerling said Bannon’s public statements leading up to the riot “suggested he might have some advanced knowledge of the events of Jan. 6.”

Amerling said there were multiple indications that Bannon “might have had some discussions with individuals in the White House, including the president.” The day’s session ended with Amerling being questioned by the prosecution. The trial was scheduled to resume Wednesday morning.

In her opening statement, Vaughn told jurors that the subpoena issued to Bannon by the committee investigating the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election and the events leading up to the Capitol insurrection “wasn’t optional. It wasn’t a request, and it wasn’t an invitation. It was mandatory.” She added: “The defendant’s failure to comply was deliberate. It wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t a mistake. It was a choice.”

Bannon’s lawyers argued that the charges against him were politically motivated and that Bannon was engaged in good-faith negotiations with the congressional committee when he was charged.

“No one ignored the subpoena,” defense lawyer Evan Corcoran told the jury.

In reality, Corcoran said, one of Bannon’s previous lawyers, Robert Costello, contacted an attorney for the House committee to express some of Bannon’s concerns about testifying.

“They did what two lawyers do. They negotiated,” Corcoran said, adding that Bannon and his legal team believed “the dates of the subpoena were not fixed; they were flexible.”

An unofficial adviser to Trump at the time of the Capitol attack, Bannon was charged with defying a subpoena that sought his records and testimony. He was indicted in November on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress, one month after the Justice Department received a congressional referral. Upon conviction, each count carries a minimum of 30 days of jail and as long as a year behind bars.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, had previously ruled that major elements of Bannon’s planned defense were irrelevant and could not be introduced in court. He ruled last week that Bannon could not claim he believed he was covered by executive privilege or that he was acting on the advice of his lawyers.

Outside the courthouse, Bannon launched into an extended rant against the committee chairman, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, and the committee hearing, calling it “a show trial.” He also repeated the discredited claim that Trump won the 2020 election and called President Joe Biden illegitimate. But he did not criticize his trial or Nichols.

Bannon, 68, was one of the most prominent of the Trump-allied holdouts refusing to testify before the committee. He had 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 legislative branch.

Trump has repeatedly asserted executive privilege — even though he’s not a current president — to try to block witness testimony and the release of White House documents. The Supreme Court in January ruled against Trump’s efforts to stop the National Archives from cooperating with the committee after a lower court judge — Tanya S. Chutkan — noted, in part, “Presidents are not kings.”

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the Jan. 6 committee hearings at https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

avalanche...

Associated Press

Body of avalanche victim in Washington state recovered after being spotted by volunteer

Search crews have recovered the body of a climber who was one of three killed in an avalanche on Washington's Colchuck Peak in February.

14 hours ago

Eugene and Linda Lamie, of Homerville, Ga., sit by the grave of their son U.S. Army Sgt. Gene Lamie...

Associated Press

Biden on Memorial Day lauds generations of fallen US troops who ‘dared all and gave all’

President Joe Biden lauded the sacrifice of generations of U.S. troops who died fighting for their country as he marked Memorial Day with the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

2 days ago

OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI gestures while speaking at Un...

Associated Press

ChatGPT maker downplays fears they could leave Europe over AI rules

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on Friday downplayed worries that the ChatGPT maker could exit the European Union

3 days ago

File - Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, left, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman arrive to the White House for a ...

Associated Press

Regulators take aim at AI to protect consumers and workers

As concerns grow over increasingly powerful artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT, the nation’s financial watchdog says it’s working to ensure that companies follow the law when they’re using AI.

5 days ago

FILE - A security surveillance camera is seen near the Microsoft office building in Beijing, July 2...

Associated Press

Microsoft: State-sponsored Chinese hackers could be laying groundwork for disruption

State-backed Chinese hackers have been targeting U.S. critical infrastructure and could be laying the technical groundwork for the potential disruption of critical communications between the U.S. and Asia during future crises, Microsoft said Wednesday.

6 days ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, May 17, 2023, in Washington....

Associated Press

White House unveils new efforts to guide federal research of AI

The White House on Tuesday announced new efforts to guide federally backed research on artificial intelligence

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Government says Bannon ignored subpoena, acted above the law