DOJ Prosecutors Say Bannon Trying 'to Have His Trial Through the Press' Rather Than in Court
© REUTERS / JIM BOURGSteve Bannon, talk show host and former White House advisor to former President Donald Trump, leaves an appearance in U.S. District Court after being indicted for refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena over the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2021
Earlier this month, Bannon pleaded not guilty to a contempt of Congress charge in connection with the 6 January Capitol riot.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has accused former President Donald Trump's ex-adviser Steve Bannon of trying to cause a public uproar with prosecutors over his criminal case, according to new filings.
Bannon is seeking to convince a judge not to keep him and his lawyers from sharing documents he receives from the Justice Department with the public before his trial.
DOJ prosecutors, however, warned that the documents must stay private while the case is pending, because these include notes of FBI interviews with witnesses who could testify against Bannon during the trial.
© AP Photo / Craig RuttlePresident Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon leaves federal court, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, after pleading not guilty to charges that he ripped off donors to an online fundraising scheme to build a southern border wall.
President Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon leaves federal court, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, after pleading not guilty to charges that he ripped off donors to an online fundraising scheme to build a southern border wall.
© AP Photo / Craig Ruttle
They stressed in a written statement on Sunday that "allowing the defendant to publicly disseminate reports of witness statements will have the collateral effect of witness tampering because it will expose witnesses to public commentary on their potential testimony before trial and allow a witness to review summaries of other witnesses' statements recounting the same event or events".
Assistant US Attorney Amanda Vaughn pointed to Bannon speaking publicly about his case outside a courtroom , where when he specifically claimed that the charge against him would be "hell" for the Biden administration.
"The misleading and frivolous nature of the defendant's claims of prejudice demonstrate that they are just a cover for the real reason the defendant opposes a protective order in this case and which he and his counsel have expressed in their extrajudicial statements — that the defendant wishes to have [a] trial through the press", Vaughn asserted.
According to her, the Bannon defence team's "misleading claims, failure to confer, unexplained wholesale opposition, and extrajudicial statements make clear the defence's real purpose: to abuse criminal discovery to try this case in the media rather than in court".
Steve Bannon Surrenders to FBI on Contempt of Congress Charges: 'We're Taking Down the Biden Regime'
15 November 2021, 14:44 GMT
This followed Bannon's remarks to reporters outside the courthouse entrance after his initial court hearing earlier this month.
"Joe Biden ordered [US Attorney General] Merrick Garland to prosecute me from the White House lawn when he got off Marine One, and we're going to go on the offence. We're tired of playing defence. We're going to go on the offence on this", Bannon said at the time.
This came after the 68-year-old pleaded not guilty to criminal charges that he defied a subpoena issued by a congressional panel investigating the deadly 6 January Capitol riots. He may face up to two years in prison if convicted.
6 January Capitol Riot
On 6 January 2020, scores of pro-Trump supporters rallied outside the US Capitol building in Washington as lawmakers were gathering inside to officially count the votes in the 3 November 2020 presidential election and announce Democrat Joe Biden as the winner.
The rally turned violent after a huge angry mob stormed the building, vandalised it, and clashed with police. Five people died during the riots, and dozens more were injured, including at least 138 police officers.
20 October 2021, 18:58 GMT
Law enforcement authorities have arrested more than 600 individuals who participated in the Capitol riots, charging some of them with assaulting federal police officers. Former President
Donald Trump strongly denied the notion that he had riled up the mob attacking the Capitol, later condemning the violence. He was subsequently impeached by the House for a second time on charges of inciting insurrection, but was then managed to avoid conviction in the Senate.