A judge refused — again — to delay the trial of Steve Bannon on contempt of Congress charges
- For the second time this week, a judge refused to delay
Steve Bannon's trial
- Bannon's lawyers asked again for a delay after the House January 6 panel played footage of the Trump ally
Carl Nicholssaid he was hopeful to find impartial jurors when the trial starts Monday
A federal judge declined once again Thursday to delay the trial of Steve Bannon on contempt of Congress charges, rejecting the former Trump advisor's request to push back the proceeding in light of the publicity surrounding the House investigation into the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
During a pre-trial hearing, US District Court Judge Carl Nichols said he was hopeful the jury selection process — known as voir dire — would filter out any bias against Bannon. A prosecutor handling Bannon's case, Molly Gaston, said the
Nichols suggested that he would reconsider delaying the trial if it proved difficult to impanel a jury based on Bannon's public profile and the House
"I am cognizant of concerns about publicity and bias, and whether we can seat a jury that is appropriate and fair. I believe the appropriate course is to go through the voir dire process," the judge, a 2019 Trump appointee, said.
Days earlier, Nichols rejected a request to delay the trial during a court hearing in which the judge also took virtually all of Bannon's defenses off the table, leaving the longtime Trump ally with few options to contest a pair of Congress charges. Nichols said he would not allow Bannon to argue that that executive privilege excused his decision to outright defy the House January 6 committee by refusing to sit for questioning or turn over subpoenaed records.
The judge similarly denied Bannon's bid to subpoena Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House January 6 committee, to testify at the trial.
"What's the point of going to trial here if there are no defenses?" asked Bannon's lawyer David Schoen at the end of Monday's hearing.
In their renewed bid to delay the trial, Bannon's lawyers pointed to an upcoming CNN documentary set to air on the network Sunday night. They also highlighted a portion of Tuesday's House January 6 committee hearing in which the panel played footage of Bannon predicting on January 5, 2021, that "all hell is going to break loose tomorrow."
Bannon's defense lawyers have also noted his recent offer to testify before the House January 6 committee, which prosecutors dismissed as a "last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability." His defense team attributed the reversal to a recent letter from Trump waiving a purported claim of executive privilege.
A grand jury indicted Bannon in November on two contempt of Congress charges, each carrying a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The indictment came weeks after the House voted to refer Bannon to the Justice Department for prosecution.
Bannon did not attend either of this week's hearings in his case.
This is a developing story.
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