The Legal Proceedings Against Steve Bannon Have Begun

( The contempt of Congress criminal trial against Steve Bannon has kicked off this week, and the federal government is trying to make the former White House adviser pay for not complying with a subpoena from the House’s January 6 select investigating committee.

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors emphasized that Bannon, a long-time ally of former President Donald Trump, was given an easy and straightforward deadline to comply with the committee’s subpoena, and he refused to comply with it.

The committee was seeking to gain his testimony regarding his knowledge of, and participation in, the attacks on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

As Amanda Vaughn, an assistant U.S. attorney, told jurors in the opening argument:

“This case is about the defendant thumbing his nose at the orderly processes of our government. It is that simple.”

She further explained in the 20-minute opening statement that the House committee wanted to question Bannon about what information he knew about the events that happened before the insurrection that day. He was provided with a due date by which he had to not only sit for questioning by the committee’s lawyers, but also submit documents they were demanding from him.

Vaughn argued that Bannon snubbed the panel on purpose, even though they warned him that his continued refusal to do so would result in the exact criminal charges that he’s facing today. She explained:

“It wasn’t optional. It wasn’t a request, and it wasn’t an invitation. It was mandatory. The defendant decided he was above the law … and that’s why we’re here today.

“He didn’t get stuck on a broken down Metro car. He just refused to follow the rules.”

The government’s arguments sought to stop in their tracks an argument that they anticipated that Bannon’s legal team may have tried to make — that Bannon thought the deadlines were negotiable instead of being set in stone.

Evan Corcoran, who is serving as the defense lawyer for Bannon, highlighted in his opening statement Bannon’s former time serving as an advisor to the president and also his involvement with what he referred to as a “media company,” which is Breitbart News.

As Corcoran said in court:
“The evidence is going to be crystal clear: No one, no one believed that Steve Bannon was going to appear on October 14, 2021.”

Bannon’s defense team also argued that the federal government is using Bannon as a pawn in a political game, and that the charges against him for contempt of Congress are just an attack that is politically motivated.

He explained:

“Politics is the lifeblood of the U.S. House of Representatives. Politics invades every decision that they make.”

Bannon is facing two charges of contempt of Congress. If found guilty, he could face as much as one year in prison and a fine of as much as $100,000 for each charge.

The trial will continue throughout this week, but it’s unsure as of now how long it will ultimately take.