Politics: Feds take issue with Steve Bannon's claims of too much pre-trial publicity and remind the judge that the longtime Trump ally was holding courthouse press conferences

Steve Bannon's unlikely criminal trial: First of its kind in almost 40 years

  Steve Bannon's unlikely criminal trial: First of its kind in almost 40 years No one has been prosecuted for contempt of Congress since 1983. But Steve Bannon, like his former boss, is unique Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon leaves the United States District Court House on the first day of jury selection in his trial for contempt of Congress, on July 18, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Steve Bannon bemoaned publicity around House January 6 committee hearings as he tried to delay his trial. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images © Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Steve Bannon bemoaned publicity around House January 6 committee hearings as he tried to delay his trial. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
  • Prosecutors made sure a judge knew about Steve Bannon's daily press conferences during his trial.
  • Bannon called the House January 6 hearings a "show trial" and said he stood with Donald Trump.
  • The filing from prosecutors appeared intended to undercut a portion of Bannon's expected appeal.

As his trial on criminal contempt of Congress charges drew near, Steve Bannon tried to stave off the high-profile proceeding by pointing to the publicity surrounding the congressional panel he stood accused of defying: the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Steve Bannon's defense to begin in ex-Trump adviser's trial

  Steve Bannon's defense to begin in ex-Trump adviser's trial WASHINGTON (AP) — Steve Bannon's lawyers are expected Thursday to begin their defense of the former adviser to then-President Donald Trump as Bannon's contempt of Congress trial enters a new phase. Bannon was in an unofficial capacity to Trump at the time of the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and is charged with defying a congressional subpoena from the House committee investigating the aftermath of the 2020 election and the events leading up to the deadly riot. It is unclear whether Bannon, 68, will take the stand or whom the defense might call as witnesses.

His lawyers argued repeatedly that the House committee's series of public hearings — combined with a CNN documentary aired the night before jury selection — created an atmosphere that jeopardized the fairness of Bannon's trial. As recently as Friday, when a jury found Bannon guilty after hardly three hours of deliberations, his defense lawyers notified the court of the House committee's mention of him the night before during a primetime hearing.

But federal prosecutors said Thursday there was just one problem with that notice to Judge Carl Nichols: Bannon's lawyers left out how the Trump ally "himself generated" publicity not only in the buildup to trial but during the closely-watched weeklong proceeding.

In a three-page court filing, federal prosecutors effectively called Bannon out for daily press conferences he held outside of court following each day of his trial. Prosecutors also noted that Bannon personally promoted a CNN documentary about him, even as his lawyers argued that the hourlong show warranted a delay of his trial.

For instance, on July 15 — three days before jury selection began — "an advertisement for the CNN program was posted to the Gettr page of the Defendant's podcast, the War Room," prosecutors said, referring to a social media platform popular among conservatives.

Then, on the day the documentary was set to air, "the Defendant's personal Gettr account reposted an advertisement for the same CNN program," prosecutors said.


Video: Steve Bannon arrives at court for contempt trial (Reuters)

Bannon and his lawyers pledged to appeal his conviction outside court Friday. Their notice of the House January 6 committee's latest hearing was filed as part of an effort to preserve issues for that appeal, which is expected to address whether Nichols should have granted a delay in light of the publicity around the inquiry into the Capitol attack and former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The Justice Department's filing on Thursday appeared aimed at undercutting that element of Bannon's anticipated appeal.

In the weeks leading up to trial, Nichols made a series of rulings that prevented Bannon from raising a number of arguments in defense. Bannon went into trial virtually defenseless, disallowed from arguing that executive privilege excused his defiance or that he was merely following his lawyer's advice when he refused to comply with a subpoena from the House January 6 committee.

But Nichols did allow Bannon to raise his offer earlier this month — following months of stonewalling — to testify before the House January 6 committee after all. Bannon attributed the reversal to a letter he received from Trump purporting to waive executive privilege, which legal experts widely viewed as not applying to him, in part, because he was years removed from his role as White House chief strategist by the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Prosecutors noted in their court filing Thursday that Bannon discussed his "eleventh-hour" offer to testify on his podcast and urged listeners to pray for "our enemies" because "we're going medieval on these people, we're going to savage our enemies." And prosecutors provided Nichols with a brief highlight reel from Bannon's daily press conferences outside the courthouse after each day of trial proceedings.

On July 18, he called the House January 6 committee's hearings a "show trial."

On July 19, Bannon "complained that Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson was not testifying in his trial, referred to another member of the Committee and another member of Congress by derogatory names, and accused the Committee of not investigating January 6 in good faith," prosecutors said.

On July 20, he again "called the Committee's work a 'show trial, the Moscow show trial of the 1930s,'" prosecutors said.

On July 21, they said, Bannon addressed legal issues in the case, including his executive privilege and advice-of-counsel arguments. "In addition," prosecutors said, "the Defendant again reiterated his public statement that had been entered into evidence the prior day: 'I stand with Trump and the Constitution.'"

Bannon is set to return to court for sentencing on October 21.

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