Steve Bannon Asks Judge to Delay Contempt of Congress Trial
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Steve Bannon Asks Federal Judge to Postpone July Contempt Trial, Citing Jan. 6 Committee ‘Media Blitz’

 
Trump Advisor Steve Bannon Goes To Court To Contest Contempt Charges

WASHINGTON, D.C. – JUNE 15: Steve Bannon, advisor to former President Donald Trump, departs the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on June 15, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

Steve Bannon asked a federal judge on Wednesday to postpone his contempt of Congress trial for nearly three months, claiming that the “media blitz” that’s greeted the Jan. 6 Committee’s public hearings has made a fair trial “impossible.”

Bannon’s trial is currently slated to begin on July 18.

The former Trump strategist wants it to be held on Oct. 15, 2022, just weeks before the midterm elections.

In his 16-page motion for a continuance, Bannon says that neither the parties nor the judge knew that the committee’s public hearings were in the works when the trial date was set. He notes that he’s not detained, and he would consent to pause the Speedy Trial Act clock.

“The Select Committee hired a television executive to produce maximum public impact,” his lawyer M. Evan Corcoran wrote in the motion. “In addition, the Select Committee scheduled its initial public hearing during prime time – again, to maximize public impact when presenting purported investigative ‘findings.’ As described by a cultural critic, the Select Committee hearings ‘have a lot in common with scripted TV mini-series: narrative, editing — even surprise reveals’ and ‘their attention to substance and style, combining their prosecutorial case with a consciousness of what piques viewers’ curiosity and keeps people talking afterward.'”

Bannon’s case relates to misdemeanor charges that he allegedly flouted the committee’s subpoenas for his documents and testimony. The bipartisan committee and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives referred charges against four of Donald Trump’s top officials: Bannon, his former strategist; Peter Navarro, his former director of trade; Dan Scavino, his former social media director; and Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff. The Department of Justice ultimately charged only Bannon and Navarro.

In a rare instance of agreement, the committee and Bannon have sought information about the Justice Department’s decisions to decline prosecuting Scavino and Meadows.

A jury will have to decide whether Bannon broke the law by stonewalling the committee, but Bannon claims a fair trial will be impossible when Washington, D.C. residents have been “bombarded” with hearing coverage. The motion touts the reach of the committee. Roughly 20 million watched the first June 9 hearing across broadcast and cable news networks, and 4.6 million tuned in online, the motion notes.

“Jan. 6 hearing” was the second-highest trending Google search term that day, it adds.

“It would be impossible to guarantee Mr. Bannon a fair trial in the middle of much-
publicized Select Committee hearings which purport to broadcast investigative ‘findings’ on topics that are referenced in the Indictment,” his defense motion claims. “Under the circumstances, we believe that it would be erroneous to deny a requested continuance when congressional hearings create prejudicial pretrial publicity – as has been acknowledged by the Government and found to constitute good cause for a trial continuance in another pending case in this district.”

Last week, a judge “reluctantly” agreed to postpone the seditious trial of certain Proud Boys leaders and members, after prosecutors and defense counsel agreed that the Jan. 6 hearings made a continuance necessary.

On Tuesday, another federal judge in the same district denied a motion to move the Oath Keepers seditious conspiracy case to another district on the same grounds, finding that defense attorneys failed to find “actual bias” by potential jurors.

U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols, a Trump appointee, will decide Bannon’s motion.

Read the motion, below:

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.