Washington — Lawyers for former President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon appeared in a Washington, D.C., courtroom on Thursday, asking a three-judge panel to overturn his conviction last year for contempt of Congress. He claimed that.
The political strategist was found guilty in July 2022 of two counts of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. . Bannon claimed he was unable to testify due to concerns about executive privilege raised by former President Donald Trump, adding that his lawyers advised him not to respond to the subpoena because of the potential consequences.
Defense attorney David Schoen told the panel that whether Bannon’s executive privilege was invoked was irrelevant because he acted on legal advice about the potential consequences of violating executive privilege. Said it was not important. Rather, Mr. Schoen argued that Mr. Bannon acted in the only way he thought the law at the time allowed, and that he did not completely ignore the requests of Congress, an argument that prosecutors disputed. .
Bannon was originally sentenced to several months in prison, but Judge Carl Nichols suspended the sentence so Bannon could appeal his conviction, citing unresolved constitutional issues. This included a $6,500 fine.
Mr. Bannon, who was a civilian at the time of the committee’s Jan. 6 meeting, is accused of refusing requests to appear at a deposition and turn over records related to the congressional investigation. Congressional investigators were interested in Mr. Bannon’s activities in more than a dozen key areas, from his interactions with Mr. Trump to his knowledge of coordination among right-wing extremist groups in carrying out the storming of the Capitol. .
During the trial, prosecutors told jurors that Mr. Bannon considered himself “above the law” and “turned his nose up” at Congress’ demands. Mr. Bannon himself did not testify, and his defense team did not call any witnesses.
The judge said binding legal precedent prohibits Mr. Bannon from telling the jury that he rejected the commission’s request on the advice of his lawyers. The prosecution successfully argued, based on case law, that it was irrelevant to his legal defense.
Bannon’s lawyers argued in his appeal of the conviction that Bannon “is prohibited from presenting any evidence or argument that he believes he responded to the subpoena in the only way allowed by law once executive privilege has been invoked.” , he acted in the manner he had experienced.” The lawyer instructed him that he must act as a matter of law. ”
Bannon’s lawyers say the key to their defense is whether their client intentionally broke the law or relied on advice of counsel or a view of executive privilege. “I have the right to have it considered,” he said.
The justices appeared skeptical Thursday that they could overturn the lower court’s ruling based on arguments about Bannon’s mental state. Justice Cornelia Pillard questioned whether it was Mr. Bannon’s decision to ask the committee for consideration on January 6 to avoid contempt charges.
Prosecutors push back on Schoen’s claims, saying Bannon “deliberately and willfully” ignored the subpoena and that the law Bannon is accused of violating would consider the reasoning behind the decision. He told the court that this was not allowed.
“Mr. Bannon had a choice,” prosecutor Alizabeth Danello said, adding that he knew he could be held in contempt.
Prosecutors wrote in their response to the appeal that the facts of the case were only laid out for the jury, but Bannon was subpoenaed “despite repeated warnings from the committee that he must comply.” refused to respond to the request.
“Defendant’s motives for not complying with the subpoena, including his claim that he relied on the advice of his attorney, are irrelevant to his guilt,” the Justice Department argued, barring Nichols from presenting evidence of Bannon’s conduct. I wrote that it was correct. “sincerity.”
Prosecutors argued that federal law establishes a process for resolving subpoena disputes, including claims of executive privilege and other legal arguments. “But the statute and case law do not allow someone like Bannon to avoid complying with a congressional subpoena or subsequent contempt charge simply by claiming he believed he did not need to comply.” is.”
Bannon’s lawyers also asked the appeals court to consider Bannon’s argument that the Jan. 6 committee was not duly constituted and, as a result, the subpoena is unenforceable. However, this argument was rejected by a judge in pretrial proceedings and the prosecution opposed it in court. Documents to be submitted.
After Thursday’s hearing, Schoen indicated he was open to taking the matter to the Supreme Court.
President Trump’s second White House adviser, Peter Navarro, was also found guilty of similar contempt of Congress after failing to respond to a subpoena from a House committee on January 6th. Lawyers for the traders have requested a retrial and have indicated they intend to appeal the guilty verdict after sentencing, which is scheduled for January.