Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Trial begins against Steve Bannon, former Trump adviser

Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Steve Bannon, former senior adviser to former President Donald Trump, who now faces two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena from the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. from 2021 to The Capitol.

Bannon was subpoenaed by the committee because investigators believe he had advance knowledge of some elements of the attack in which hundreds of Trump supporters tried to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Of the various former Trump officials the committee has asked to provide testimony, Bannon has been one of the most defiant, refusing to produce documents, refusing to appear at scheduled depositions and making combative public statements about the investigation. If he is convicted of the contempt charges, he faces up to two years in prison.

Monday marked the beginning of “voir dire,” a process in which potential jurors face questions from lawyers on both sides to establish their ability to consider the case objectively. By the end of the day, eight potential jurors had been identified, out of the total of 12, plus alternates, required for a federal criminal trial.

attack knowledge

The January 6 committee has said it wants Bannon to testify because “according to many published reports and his own public statements, Stephen K. Bannon had specific knowledge about the events planned for January 6 before they occurred.”

On his regular Jan. 5 podcast, Bannon warned that “hell will break loose tomorrow.”

The congressional committee also said that in addition to helping organize the “Stop the Steal” movement that helped fuel the attack, Bannon participated in a “war room” meeting at a hotel near the White House on January 5 and he spoke to Trump that day.

In a contempt resolution presented to the full House of Representatives, the committee wrote: “In short, Mr. Bannon appears to have played a multifaceted role in the events of January 6, and the American people are entitled to hear his first – testimony of hand on his actions”.

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Executive Privilege Claim

Bannon, whose official title was White House Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor to the President during the seven months he served in the Trump administration in 2017, claimed his documents and testimony were protected because of his White House connections. Under the doctrine of “executive privilege,” certain communications between a president and his advisers can be kept confidential.

At a pretrial hearing last week, US District Judge Carl J. Nichols ruled that Bannon, who left his White House job more than three years before the attack, was not entitled to claim executive privilege as a defense.

At the same hearing, Nichols, who was appointed by Trump, rejected nearly every defense Bannon’s attorneys planned to make, including a suggestion that the trial was unnecessary because Bannon is now willing to consider giving testimony to the committee after all.

The judge said Bannon’s only remaining defense is to claim that he somehow misunderstood the deadline to comply with the congressional subpoena he had received.

Nichols’ rulings resulted in a remarkable exchange between the judge and Bannon’s defense attorney, David I. Schoen, who complained, “What’s the use of going to trial if there are no defenses?”

“Okay,” the judge replied.

Few ways to go

Noah Bookbinder, a former anti-corruption public prosecutor and now president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the judge’s response to Schoen indicated the dire straits Bannon finds himself in.

“The judge essentially almost told Bannon to plead guilty, because there really doesn’t seem to be a path forward for him to be found not guilty,” Bookbinder told VOA.

Bookbinder said it’s hard to know what a guilty plea or guilty verdict would mean for Bannon.

“There’s not a lot of precedent,” he said. “You don’t really have cases like this that go to trial very often.”

While admitting that Bannon’s refusal to testify may not rise to the level of many things that get people sent to prison for, Bookbinder said it’s clearly still possible for Bannon to see the inside of a cell if he refuses to provide evidence to the prisoner. committee.

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“You could imagine a case where a judge looks at him and says, ‘You know, he’s still not doing what he’s supposed to do that got him to this point,'” Bookbinder said. “Putting him on parole is not necessarily going to be very effective. Then maybe a judge will send him to jail.”

colorful background

Bannon, a former naval officer who has graduate degrees from Georgetown and Harvard universities, came to American politics by a winding road. After working for the investment bank Goldman Sachs in the late 1980s, he launched his own investment bank in 1990 and was active in Hollywood, producing multiple films.

Bannon also briefly served as executive director of the Biosphere 2 project, an effort to create a closed biological system that could help investigate ways humans could live on other planets.

Bannon was one of the founding members of Breitbart News, which he eventually took over and transformed into a vehicle for the emerging “alt-right” movement in American politics. That movement rallied behind Trump as a candidate for president in 2016, and Bannon found himself in the inner circle of the Trump campaign, eventually taking control of the operation in the months leading up to the election.

In addition to his involvement with the Trump campaign, Bannon was also an executive at Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that was accused of illegally using data taken from Facebook to influence the results of the 2016 election.

In 2020, Bannon was indicted on federal fraud charges in connection with We Build the Wall, an organization that claimed to be collecting donations that would be used to complete the wall that Trump promised to build between the US and Mexico.

On January 20, 2021, the day he left office, Trump officially pardoned Bannon of the federal charges against him. The case was dismissed.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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