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Bannon Asks Court to Toss Contempt Verdict

August 5, 2022 by Dan McCue
Bannon Asks Court to Toss Contempt Verdict
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon pauses to speak with reporters after departing federal court, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Former Trump Advisor Steve Bannon is asking a federal judge to throw out the guilty verdict against him on a contempt of Congress charge, claiming a pretrial decision barring him from calling members of Congress as witnesses violated his due process rights.

In the lead-in to his jury trial last month, Bannon’s attorneys had attempted to subpoena House Select Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and others on the panel.

But U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols quickly quashed the subpoenas, agreeing with federal prosecutors that the Constitution’s speech or debate clause prevented Thompson and other members of the select committee from being compelled to testify at trial. 

Prosecutors instead called the committee’s chief counsel, Kristin Amerling, who the government maintained had the same knowledge about the subpoena to Bannon as any member of the committee.

The move caused Bannon to go on a tirade before reporters outside the courthouse later that day.

During his discourse, Bannon called Thompson a disgrace and said the panel’s members didn’t have the guts to testify against him in court.

“Why is Bennie Thompson not here defending his committee, the show trial, the Moscow show trial of the 1930s? Why is he not here in person?” Bannon seethed.

In their court filing, Bannon attorneys Evan Corcoran and David Schoen take a more measured approach, saying Nichols’ decision denied their client his “right to due process of law, his right to compulsory process, his right of confrontation, his right to effective assistance of counsel and to a fair jury trial.”

The court filing asks Nichols to dismiss the indictment or otherwise exclude the evidence from Amerling, which amounted to nearly the government’s entire case. 

Bannon’s lawyers maintain it was “impossible to fully challenge the government’s evidence as presented through a congressional staffer” and that, because of congressional immunity, they weren’t given any of the specific documents they requested other than those Amerling voluntarily gave to the prosecution.

Prosecutors are expected to file a response to Bannon’s filing early next week.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and @DanMcCue

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