WASHINGTON – The chief adviser of the House Committee Investigating January 6, 2021 Capitol Attack told a Federal Court jury on Wednesday that former White House strategist Steve Bannon was repeatedly warned in October that he was facing criminal charges for defying the panel’s demands for documents and testimony.
During the second day of testimony in Bannon’s Contempt TrialKristin Amerling said Bannon’s attorney only told the committee after a deadline had passed for producing a trove of documents he believed were exempt from compliance because former President Donald Trump intended to invoke executive privilege.
“The select committee’s position was that this was not a valid justification for refusing to comply,” Amerling said, referring to Oct. 8, 2021 correspondence with Bannon’s attorney Robert Costello.
The committee’s attorney said Costello was advised that the panel was “obligated to consider (Bannon’s) non-compliance as a willful violation of the law of criminal contempt.”
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Earlier this month, the Justice Department revealed in court papers that Trump’s attorney never said the former president intended to invoke executive privilege that would shield Bannon from the committee.
Until Costello’s October communication with the committee, Amerling said Bannon had made no contact to request an extension of time to comply or to suggest he had no relevant documents to share.
“Did the committee get anything other than radio silence at 10 a.m. on October 7? Assistant US Attorney Amanda Vaughn asked the witness, referring to the document deadline.
“No,” Amerling said, adding that Bannon also did not show up for the scheduled Oct. 14 deposition.
The witness was eventually told that the committee had voted to hold Bannon in contempt on October 19, resulting in a referral to the Justice Department for prosecution.
Asked if Bannon had made further contact after the notification.
“I haven’t heard anything from him,” Amerling said.
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Amerling’s testimony came after federal prosecutors opened its file on Tuesdayarguing that Bannon had “decided he was above the law” when he defied the committee’s subpoena.
“It wasn’t an accident; it was not a mistake,” Vaughn told the jury. “It was a decision; it was a choice.
“This case is about the defendant thumbing his nose at our government’s orderly process. It’s as simple as that,” Vaughn said.
Bannon’s attorneys continued to claim that Bannon had done nothing wrong, arguing that the case was politically motivated.
“This is Steve Bannon, and he is innocent of the charges,” Bannon’s attorney, Evan Corcoran, told the jury on Tuesday.
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“Politics is the lifeblood of the United States House of Representatives,” Corcoran said. “Politics pervades every decision they make. That’s the motto of Congress.”
Corcoran denied that Bannon ignored the subpoena, arguing that there was no set time for Bannon to appear for a deposition and provide documents as his attorneys and the committee entered into negotiations.
“No one ignored the subpoena,” Corcoran said. “Quite the contrary, there was a direct engagement (with the committee). The evidence will be crystal clear. No one expected Steve Bannon to appear… There will be no evidence that anyone ordered Steve Bannon from doing anything.”
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In his testimony on Tuesday, Amerling directly disputed the defense claims.
In her role as attorney, Amerling said she was personally involved in advising the committee regarding the Bannon subpoena.
Amerling said the committee established specific deadlines for Bannon to comply with producing documents by October 7, 2021 and appearing for deposition on October 14.
When asked if Bannon complied with those demands, Amerling told the prosecutor, “He didn’t.”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Steve Bannon trial: January 6 committee warned of possible prosecution