A federal judge on Wednesday refused to toss the criminal contempt of Congress case against Steve Bannon, saying that Bannon’s claims that the material the Jan. 6 committee sought was protected by executive privilege weren’t enough to dismiss the case.
Bannon, who left his White House job in August 2017, had refused to comply with committee subpoenas because he claimed former President Donald Trump had made an executive privilege claim that covered his cooperation with the panel.
At the end of a hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, said there was insufficient evidence that Trump had actually asserted privilege over Bannon’s participation with the committee, Politico reported, and also that Bannon had incorrectly cited a Justice Department opinion to assert “immunity” from the subpoenas.
Nichols also declined to find that the Jan. 6 committee structure was invalid — countering a claim by Bannon that it improperly lacked appointees of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Politico noted.
In November, a federal grand jury indicted Bannon on two counts of contempt of Congress, one count for his refusal to appear for a deposition and one count for his refusal to provide records sought by the committee. The misdemeanor counts carry a maximum of one year behind bars and a $1,000 fine.
Bannon is set for trial next month. Last week, he reportedly subpoenaed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), members of the Jan. 6 committee and others to testify at the trial.
Another Trump aide, former White House trade advisor Peter Navarro, was also recently indicted on contempt of Congress charges for refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoenas.
Bannon, defiant as usual, told reporters after Wednesday’s hearing: “MAGA is on the march. The J6 committee is totally irrelevant. Their ratings stink. They couldn’t compete with us today.”
The day before the Capitol attack, Bannon said on his podcast that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
“So many people said, ‘Man, if I was in a revolution, I would be in Washington.’ Well, this is your time in history,” he added.