Former Trump adviser due back in court in December after defying subpoena from committee investigating Capitol attack
Donald Trump’s former White House adviser Steve Bannon wants documents from his contempt-of-Congress case to be made public, as his lawyers filed a motion to oppose a protective order that prohibits both sides of the case from publicly releasing such evidence.
Mr Bannon surrendered himself to the FBI three days after a District of Columbia grand jury indicted him on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena commanding him to give evidence before a select House of Representatives committee investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol. He has pleaded not guilty.
Assistant US Attorney Amanda Vaughn previously argued that the case was relatively straightforward and involved “less than 20” documents, most of which are correspondence between Mr Bannon and the 6 January select committee.
“In our view, this is a very straightforward case about whether or not the defendant showed up,” said Ms Vaughn, who was pressed for a quick trial.
“The Government offered no reason why it wanted to limit Mr Bannon’s attorneys in their use of the documents to prepare a defense,” according to a statement from Mr Bannon’s team provided to The Washington Post.
A motion filed by Mr Bannon’s attorneys on 24 November argues that a proposed protective order would “interfere” with his right to a fair trial.
“The public interest is served when the public can see that an accused is being provided a fair trial,” they argued.
“Members of the public should make their own independent judgment as to whether the US Department of Justice is committed to a just result based upon all the facts,” according to a statement on behalf of Mr Bannon and provided to The Washington Post, which first reported the latest filing.
“Mr Bannon asked the judge to follow the normal process and allow unfettered access to and use of the documents,” the statement said.
US District Court Judge Carl Nichols also rejected an attempt from Mr Bannon’s defense to delay the proceedings until early 2022 and has set a date of 7 December for the next hearing.
Mr Bannon, who served as the former president’s top adviser within the first few months of his term, has claimed that executive privilege – a legal doctrine that protects conversations between and among a president and his advisers – precludes him from having to testify about the assault on Congress, fuelled by Mr Trump’s “stolen election” narrative in an attempt to disrupt the certification of millions of Americans’ votes.
Committee chair Bennie Thompson and vice chair Liz Cheney said in a statement that Mr Bannon’s indictment “should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can ignore the Select Committee or try to stonewall our investigation: no one is above the law. We will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need.”
The committee has issued subpoenas for several people linked to Mr Trump and 6 January, including several former White Officials officials, including Kayleigh McEnany and Stephen Miller, as well as other high-profile figures like Alex Jones and Roger Stone and far-right groups that participated in the attack, including the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.