This morning, we brought you the story of how former Trump advisor Steve Bannon agreed over the weekend to appear before the Jan 6 Committee despite refusing to do so since last October. He wrote a letter Saturday to the Committee notifying them of his decision after former President Trump wrote his own letter indicating that he would not invoke executive privilege.
Unfortunately for Bannon, his offer comes too late for the Justice Department, which wants to proceed with his criminal contempt of Congress charges for his prior unwillingness to go before the committee. They claimed that his offer to appear was a “last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability” in their overnight filing. “The Defendant’s purported desire to testify now does not erase his past contempt,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly P. Gaston and Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda R. Vaughn.
A Trump-appointed federal judge agreed Monday morning, ruling that the trial must proceed as scheduled on July 18. “I see no reason for extending this case any longer,” said Judge Carl Nichols at the end of a hearing.
Bannon had requested a delay for the trial due to the “media blitz” created by the Committee’s televised hearings, but Nichols argued that jury selection would solve that problem:
While I am certainly cognizant of Mr. Bannon’s concerns regarding publicity, in my view the correct mechanism at this time for addressing that concern is through the [jury selection] process.
Bannon faces two contempt charges, each carrying a prison sentence of up to 1-year and a $100,000 fine.
My first question is, where were these people when Obama Attorney General Eric Holder was found in contempt of Congress in 2012? A federal judge refused to charge him, ruling that the contempt motion was “entirely unnecessary.” Double-standard anyone?
Things got worse for Bannon, though, as the Judge made several other rulings disadvantageous to the defense. From Business Insider:
In addition to denying the requested delay, Nichols handed the Justice Department victories on virtually all of the other pre-trial points of disagreement with Bannon. At the House’s request, he quashed Bannon’s subpoena seeking records and testimony from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the January 6 committee.
Nichols also limited potential defenses from Bannon, including a challenge to the composition of the House January 6 committee and arguments that the Justice Department was going against its own policies in prosecuting him. The judge had previously ruled that Bannon could not argue he was relying on the advice of counsel in refusing to sit for questioning or turn over subpoenaed records.
In my earlier story on the subject of Bannon, I reported how RedState has been critical of the January 6 hearings:
RedState has been heavily critical of the committee because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi broke long-standing custom in refusing to allow the five Republicans chosen by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to serve, and instead put rabid anti-Trumpers Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger as the only GOPers on the committee. In addition to being highly partisan and unbalanced, the committee is plainly unfair, because there are no defense witnesses and no cross-examination. For instance, the committee’s “bombshell” Cassidy Hutchinson testimony has been heavily questioned, since the panel has so far been unwilling or unable to supply corroborating witnesses. To put it bluntly, the whole thing’s a joke.
The Left continues to flex its partisan muscle, with an able assist from Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice and the J6 Committee. Whether you love Steve Bannon or hate him, this whole charade feels like an abuse of power.