WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Monday declined to delay the upcoming trial of Steve Bannon, an adviser to former President Donald Trump who faces contempt charges after refusing for months to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Bannon is still scheduled to go on trial next week despite telling the House committee late Saturday that he is now prepared to testify. It’s unclear whether Bannon will again refuse to appear before the committee with the trial pending.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols also ruled against several requests by Bannon’s attorneys to seek the testimony of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or the committee chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. And Nichols barred Bannon’s attorneys from arguing before a jury that the committee violated House rules in demanding Bannon’s appearance, that Bannon defied the subpoena on the advice of his defense counsel or at Trump’s order.
Trump’s own lawyer, Justin Clark, according to the Justice Department, told the FBI that Trump “never invoked executive privilege over any particular information or materials” and offered no basis for Bannon’s “total noncompliance” with his subpoena.
Judge Carl Nichols issued a series of rulings on motions preparing for the trial Monday that largely did not go Bannon’s way, including knocking out several potential defenses he had raised.
After the judge concluded, Bannon lawyer David Schoen said in the courtroom, “What is the point of going to trial here if there are no defenses?”
Judge Nichols agreed, suggesting Bannon’s team consider that.
The fact that Bannon was not a government employee at the time of the subpoena “dooms” any “entrapment by estoppel” defense, Nichols said, meaning that Bannon cannot argue that he ignored the subpoena and he believed his actions were legal because of instruction from a government official. Nichols also said, Bannon also could not rely upon a “public authority” defense.
The Trump associate is set to go on trial next Monday, 7/18, for contempt of Congress after he blew off the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoena.