Thursday, August 18

Steve Bannon’s Trial Begins for Contempt of Capitol Assault Investigation

Jury selection in the trial of far-right Steve Bannon, who was an adviser to Republican President Donald Trump (2017-2021), began this Monday in a federal court in the District of Columbia.

Bannon and his ultra-conservative allies bet on local politics to strengthen Trumpism

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Bannon is facing justice for refusing to collaborate with the House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6, 2021 assault on Capitol Hill, which occurred as Congress tried to certify the electoral victory of now-president, Democrat Joe Biden, in the elections of November 3, 2020. That day some 10,000 people – most of them Trump supporters – marched towards the Capitol and some 800 broke into the building. There were five dead and about 140 wounded agents.

Bannon’s prosecution comes after Trump’s former adviser earlier this month conveyed to the committee that he is willing to testify. He did so after Trump confirmed the withdrawal of the “executive privilege” that protects a president’s communications with his team.

That privilege had been invoked, according to the former president, when Bannon was summoned to testify, although the committee had already said in October 2021 that the former adviser was not covered by that protection, since at the time of the attack he did not hold any public office.

Potential jurors must answer if they have seen the committee hearings on January 6 and if they are able to put aside any opinions they have about the people involved, CBS reported Monday.

two charges

Bannon, 68, has been facing a criminal charge since November 2021 for his refusal to appear before said committee and another for not wanting to deliver documents. Each charge can carry between 30 days and a year in prison, as well as a fine of up to $100,000.

The committee wanted him to testify because they believe he had some foreknowledge about what was going to happen on January 6, when Congress was scheduled to certify Biden’s electoral victory and Trump had called a protest near the White House.

Bannon spoke with Trump at least twice on the eve of the attack and that same January 5 he assured in his podcast that the next day “all hell” was going to be unleashed.

The Justice Department this month deemed Bannon’s change of heart about his willingness to testify irrelevant to its continued desire to put him in the dock for contempt.

The process is expected slight

The selection of the jury coincides with a key week in the investigations of the House of Representatives committee: this Thursday, during prime time, the eighth and currently last session of this first round of interrogations, which began a month ago, will take place.

His process is expected to be brief because Judge Carl Nichols, of the federal court of the District of Columbia, where the trial will be held, has dismissed almost all the avenues of defense proposed by Bannon.

“What is the use of going to trial if there is no defense?”, declared his lawyer, David Schoen, after the judge rejected his arguments on June 15, according to which the summons to testify before Congress and that he disobeyed it was illegal.

Last June, a grand jury charged another former Trump adviser, Peter Navarro, with contempt, who also refused to testify before the committee, alleging that the former president had invoked “executive privilege.”