Steve Bannon goes on trial starting Monday in a Washington, DC, federal court.
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A series of court rulings have severely limited Steve Bannon’s defense arguments at trial.
Bannon unsuccessfully pushed to delay the trial and to call House members as witnesses.
Prosecutors see their case as straightforward: Bannon illegally snubbed the House January 6 panel.
Within weeks of charging Steve Bannon with contempt of Congress, federal prosecutors made clear that they saw the case as a relatively simple one.
In a December court filing, prosecutors said they anticipated needing just “one day of testimony” at trial to prove that Bannon criminally defied the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. It read as a bold claim then, but with the trial set to begin Monday with jury selection, the case against Bannon is shaping up to be devastatingly straightforward.
A series of pre-trial rulings has left Bannon virtually defenseless, precluding him from presenting a number of arguments his defense lawyers hoped to raise. At a hearing in Washington, DC, last week that eviscerated many of Bannon’s planned defenses, US District Court Judge Carl Nichols ruled that his lawyers could not argue that executive privilege excused his refusal to sit for questioning or turn over records to the House January 6 committee.
Nichols, a Trump appointee confirmed in 2019, similarly prevented Bannon’s defense team from arguing that his past role as former President Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist justified his defiance. The judge also forbade Bannon’s lawyers from pointing to internal Justice Department memos describing limits on congressional subpoenas, and he extinguished the onetime Trump advisor’s hope of calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers to testify.
Months earlier, Nichols ruled that Bannon could not argue he decided not to comply with the House committee’s subpoena based on the advice of his lawyer.
The combined effect of the rulings prompted Bannon’s defense lawyer David Schoen to ask a question in open court Monday: “What’s the point of going to trial here if there are no defenses?”
Bannon’s trial prospects appear grim indeed, legal experts told Insider.
Any chances of skirting conviction likely rested in legal arguments that could have muddied the case for jurors. But, in response to the Justice Department’s objections, Nichols has taken those defenses off the table.
“What we used to call this in my day was a slow-motion guilty plea,” said Barb McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor …read more
Source:: Business Insider