Steve Bannon is set to go to trial next month for defying a congressional subpoena of the Jan 6th committee. Bannon’s legal team subpoenaed top House Democrats, including speaker Nancy Pelosi, other members of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, and their staffers last week, CNN reported.
The one-time chief adviser to former President Donald Trump signed off on the decision to build his defense against a Department of Justice indictment dating from last November.
Those charges included two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to testify and produce documents for the Jan. 6 committee.
Bannon’s legal team subpoenaed 16 lawmakers and congressional staffers to testify at the July trial and produce documents, according to one of Bannon’s attorneys and copies of the subpoenas provided to CNN.
The subpoenas were aimed at all nine members of the select committee, three committee staffers and General Counsel for the House of Representatives Douglas Letter. Bannon also subpoenaed House Democratic leadership, including Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Rep. Jim Clyburn.
Whether the subpoenas stand depends on how Judge Carl Nichols rules at a hearing next week, where he will assess pre-trial motions. Nichols could decide the testimony of members of Congress, for instance, is inadmissible because of protections like the so-called speech and debate clause.
Former Deputy New York Attorney General Danya Perry told Axios that subpoenas to members of Congress and their staffers “are likely to be quashed swiftly” due to the speech and debate clause.
“In this particular case I’m extremely confident that the staff members and members of the House would be shielded by the Speech and Debate Clause,” said Thomas Spulak, who served as general counsel to the House of Representatives in the 1990s.
The main position of Bannon’s defense is that he cannot be held in willful contempt because he could reasonably believe the subpoena was invalid when the select committee failed to allow a Trump lawyer to attend his deposition, after Trump asserted executive privilege.
Other Republicans have also challenged the legitimacy of the committee and refused to testify. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to comply with a committee subpoena, claiming it was not legally valid. Former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro, who has been charged with two counts of contempt of Congress, also refused to testify and has cited executive privilege issues and claimed his subpoena from the “kangaroo committee” was unenforceable.
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