The legal team of Steve Bannon claimed in a court filing on Friday that prosecutors last month provided more than 790 documents that “reflected efforts by the Government to obtain telephone records and email records from the personal and professional accounts of defense counsel” Robert Costello, who is one of Bannon’s three criminal defense attorneys.
Costello represented the former Trump White House chief strategist during negotiations with the Jan. 6 Committee. Bannon, who reportedly helped former President Trump in his failed effort to overturn the election, defied the committee’s subpoena and is fighting criminal charges as a result.
The filing, however, does not indicate whether prosecutors’ efforts to obtain Costello’s records are connected to Bannon’s case. Costello also represents Rudy Giuliani, who was subpoenaed by the committee for his fruitless efforts to help Trump overturn the 2020 election results.
“Nowhere in the Government’s production was a copy of a court order authorizing the Government’s actions, nor was there a copy of any subpoena for the records, nor was there even any application for a court order or for authorization from the Department of Justice for subpoenas intended to obtain defense counsel’s personal and professional telephone and email records,” Bannon’s lawyers wrote.
Aside from what Costello voluntarily disclosed to the the committee, Bannon’s lawyers wrote that “the Government has not taken any steps to obtain any attorney work product relating to any attorney’s representation of Mr. Bannon or to obtain any confidential communications between” Bannon, Costello and attorney Adam Katz, or between Bannon and any other attorneys.
Bannon’s attorneys claimed that the government apparently sought and obtained an order related to Costello’s use of services of one major Internet carrier/provider “without any notice” to Costello. Attorneys wrote that the records include his email activity from March 5 through Nov. 12, 2021, which extends to “any and all information related to defense counsel’s participation in many of its services beyond email” as well as reports on the status of emails (such as being unread or in the inbox).
Late last year, Bannon pleaded not guilty to contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with the House Jan. 6 Select Committee’s subpoena, citing “executive privilege.” (This defense was despite the fact that he hadn’t worked at the White House for years at the time of the Capitol insurrection.)
In October, the House voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying the committee’s subpoena. Bannon’s defense previously said it would defend their client’s defiance of the committee’s subpoena by arguing that he acted on the advice of counsel.
The Justice Department also accused Bannon of trying to whip up a media circus, following Bannon’s request that the court lift the government’s protective order on the discovery material in his criminal contempt case and allow the documents to be made public.