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Steve Bannon

Former Trump adviser Bannon on trial for defying congressional subpoena

Former Trump adviser Bannon on trial for defying congressional subpoena
Trump ally and former White House adviser Steve Bannon leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse after appearing in federal court in Washington, DC, USA, 15 November 2021. EPA-EFE/PETE MAROVICH

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - Jury selection begins on Monday in the criminal trial of Steve Bannon, a former presidential aide to Donald Trump, who faces charges that he defied a congressional subpoena from the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump's supporters.

Bannon, 68, is facing two misdemeanour counts of contempt of Congress after he declined to provide testimony or documents to the House of Representatives committee.

Bannon has unsuccessfully tried to persuade U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols to delay his trial, arguing that the committee’s high-profile televised hearings could make it harder for him to have a fair and impartial jury.

The committee presented evidence in a televised hearing last week that Bannon spoke with Trump at least twice on Jan. 5, the day before the Capitol attack.

The committee also played a clip of Bannon saying “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow” on a right-wing talk show that day. He made those comments after his first call with Trump, the committee said.

Another hearing could be held this week, while the trial continues.

After Bannon was first charged in the case, he claimed he was unable to comply with the committee’s request because the materials were covered by a legal doctrine known as executive privilege that keeps presidential communications confidential.

Nichols has ruled that Bannon cannot use executive privilege as a defense in his case, and he also cannot claim he relied on his attorney’s advice when he declined to testify or provide records.

Trump told Bannon earlier this month he was waiving any executive privilege claim, and Bannon has since offered to testify before the committee.

Last week, Nichols left open the possibility that Bannon could potentially present evidence of his recent offer to cooperate with the panel to the jury as a defense.

By Sarah N. Lynch

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Andy Sullivan and Jonathan Oatis)

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