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The Trial for Steve Bannon’s Contempt of Congress is Expected to Be Expedited

Stephen Bannon, former President Donald Trump’s one-time strategist and campaign chairman, will go on trial Monday on two counts of contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena from a House committee on January 6. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, the Trump appointee overseeing Bannon’s trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., rejected most of Bannon’s proposed defence strategies in hearings last week.

“What’s the point of going to trial if there are no defences?” After Nichols denied Bannon’s proposed motions to delay the trial, but prominent Democrats on the stand for questioning, and seek refuge under what Bannon unsuccessfully claimed was Trump’s invocation of executive privilege, Bannon’s lawyer David Schoen inquired. “Agreed,” Nichols said.

While the punishment for each count Bannon is facing ranges from a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of one year in prison, prosecuting for contempt of Congress is incredibly uncommon, and Bannon’s case is also unusual in other ways.


According to George Washington University law professor Randall Eliason, that was Nichols’ way of urging Bannon to seek a plea deal to avoid a short trial that he is very likely to lose.

“Obviously, everyone has the right to a trial, but usually when you go to trial, there’s some kind of legal or factual dispute that needs to be resolved,” he explained.

“The judge’s point is that there aren’t any here. In those cases, going to trial becomes what prosecutors refer to as a “long guilty plea.””

The trial is set to begin Monday, and once a jury is selected, “the trial is likely to be brief — prosecutors say their case will take a day, and given the judge’s limitations on which witnesses Bannon can call and what issues he can raise, it’s unclear how long Bannon’s own case may take,” according to the Post.

Each count Bannon faces carries a minimum 30-day sentence and a maximum of one year in prison, but prosecuting contempt of Congress is extremely rare, and Bannon’s case is unusual in other ways.

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Bannon has stated unequivocally that he will not plead guilty. “Pray for our enemies, because we’re going medieval on these people,” he said in a recent podcast about his upcoming trial. “We’re going to slaughter our adversaries.”

Given Bannon’s long odds at trial, he may be refusing to negotiate a plea deal to preserve his right to appeal, or “maybe it’s just a show to him, one where he can play the MAGA martyr and use it to raise his profile,” Eliason said. “That is not a legal reason to go to trial, but it may be enough for him.”

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