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Trump aide Steve Bannon cites Jan. 6 hearing in searching for trial delay

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Steve Bannon, former adviser to Donald Trump, speaks to members of the media before entering federal court in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2022. Bannon is facing contempt of Congress charges related to the investigation of the January 6, 2021, siege on the U.S. Capitol.

Ting Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Former Trump White House aide Steve Bannon has again asked a federal judge to delay his upcoming trial on criminal contempt charges, this time citing repeated references to a few of his past comments during a hearing Tuesday of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Bannon’s lawyers also said in a court filing Wednesday that “the defense learned just today” that CNN will air a one-hour documentary on Bannon on Sunday evening, the day before his trial for contempt of Congress is about to start in Washington, D.C.

Defense attorneys said that each events create “the very serious risk of prejudice here” against Bannon amongst jurors to be chosen for his trial on charges of willfully refusing to comply with subpoenas issued by the Jan. 6 House panel demanding documents and his testimony.

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“There’s just nothing magic about July 18th [the trial’s scheduled start date] that may possibly justify the danger to Mr. Bannon’s fundamental” constitutional rights to a good trial, the lawyers wrote to Judge Carl Nichols.

They asked the judge to postpone the trial until after Oct. 15.

Nichols on Monday rejected a previous bid by Bannon to postpone the contempt trial by three months after his lawyers argued that media coverage of the House hearings would harm his right to a good trial.

Nichols that very same day also said that Bannon couldn’t argue at trial that he did not comply with the subpoena on the grounds of executive privilege, and barred him from calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the Jan. 6 panel as witnesses.

The judge’s rulings effectively gutted much of Bannon’s potential defense, and led considered one of his lawyers to complain in court, “What is the point in going to trial here if there aren’t any defenses?”

Bannon, who served just seven months as a top White House adviser to Trump, faces a minimum of 30 days in jail if convicted of the 2 contempt charges he faces.

Of their court filing Wednesday renewing the trial delay request, Bannon’s lawyers said lawmakers at Tuesday’s House committee hearing showed video excerpts of him speaking on his podcast on Jan. 5, 2021, that had been “edited for max inflammatory effect.”

“All hell goes to interrupt loose tomorrow,” Bannon said on that video. “All converging and now we’re on, as they are saying, the purpose of attack. Right? The purpose of attack tomorrow. I’ll inform you this, it isn’t going to occur like you’re thinking that it will occur. OK? It can be quite extraordinarily different. And all I can say is strap in.”

Later that very same night, a committee member said, Bannon and then-President Donald Trump spoke on the phone for six minutes.

The next day, 1000’s of Trump supporters rioted inside and outside the Capitol, delaying for hours the certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory by a joint session of Congress.

Bannon’s defense filing Wednesday also detailed the CNN special report scheduled to air Sunday, which is titled “Divided We Fall.”

“The Special Report on Mr. Bannon, broadcast on the eve of trial is being widely promoted with a trailer and special announcements by key CNN hosts,” the filing said.

A CNN trailer for the special shows Bannon saying, “We are going to govern for 100 years,” the filing noted.

A narrator then says on the trailer, “In rare interviews, CNN investigates the person and his master plan,” and a video clip shows former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale saying, “Bannon’s calling the plays.”

Bannon’s lawyers wrote, “The teaser uses the term ‘Master Plan’ to explain Mr. Bannon’s purported machinations, with clearly intentional reference to this well-known weighted term referring to history’s most diabolical plot.”

That sentence ends with a footnote to an outline of a book titled, “Hitler’s Masterplan, 1933-1945,” which the publisher description said detailed “Hitler’s unrealised vision for a Europe dominated by the Third Reich.”

Bannon’s lawyers wrote, “The Special Report documentary, broadcast on this broadly disseminated network undoubtedly can be extraordinarily inflammatory and overwhelming prejudicial for a prospective juror, starting service on this trial the next day.”

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