Steve Bannon's attorney asks judge: ‘What’s the point of going to trial’ with no defense?

Steve Bannon's attorney asks judge: ‘What’s the point of going to trial’ with no defense?
Steve Bannon (Gage Skidmore).

A Trump-appointed federal judge on Monday ruled almost entirely for the U.S. Dept. of Justice as attorneys prepare to go to trial in the case against Steve Bannon, the far right-wing activist who served as Donald Trump’s White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President.

The House of Representatives had voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress, after he ignored a legal and valid subpoena from the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. The DOJ is prosecuting the case.

Judge Carl Nichols refused Bannon’s attorneys’ request to delay the trial, ordering it to begin as scheduled next Monday, CNN reports, despite Bannon’s attorneys claiming they don’t have enough time to prepare. Judge Nichols also tossed Bannon’s claim of executive privilege.

READ MORE: Justice Department exposes Steve Bannon’s desperate ploy to derail Jan. 6 hearings

At one point an attorney for the Dept. of Justice reminded the judge that while Bannon tried to invoke executive privilege, which he has no right to, Bannon also refused to provide to Congress documents that had no privilege attached.

“How are communications with the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers possibly relevant to executive privilege?” an Asst. U.S. Attorney asked Judge Nichols, as Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports.

Cheney reports the judge ruled that federal prosecutors “only need to prove Bannon acted ‘deliberately’ and ‘intentionally’ to defy the select committee — not that he knew it was illegal or wrong.”

Judge Nichols also ruled “Bannon cannot present evidence that he relied on internal DOJ opinions or assertions of executive privilege,” Cheney adds.

READ MORE: FBI interviews Trump attorney in connection with Steve Bannon’s contempt case

“This is a huge blow to Bannon’s defense — it essentially cuts off his primary arguments that he claimed justified his decision not to appear. He’s left with very little else in his defense,” he says.

In another damning message to Bannon, Judge Nichols destroyed another large part of Bannon’s argument.

“The former president, in his civilian capacity, is by definition not a federal official” and “never instructed Mr. Bannon not to show up altogether,” Nichols said.

Nichols also ruled Bannon cannot subpoena the Speaker of the House to testify.

READ MORE: Donald Trump blessed Steve Bannon's cooperation because the hearings are so damaging: David Jolly

Bannon’s attorney David Schoen was apparently extremely frustrated by the end.

“What’s the point of going to trial if we don’t have any defenses,” he told Judge Nichols, as The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reports. Lowell called it a “heavy defeat” for Bannon.

Cheney reports DOJ won “virtually every motion … leaving Bannon with almost no conceivable defense except, perhaps, that he misunderstood the date of the subpoena deadline.”

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