Bannon requests trial delay over Jan. 6 hearing publicity
Steve Bannon, a former adviser in the Trump administration, has requested that his trial over contempt of Congress charges be delayed, arguing the Jan. 6 House select committee’s hearings have gained too much publicity.
In a court filing on Wednesday, Bannon’s attorneys, David Schoen, Robert Costello and Evan Corcoran, asked for the start date of the trial to be moved from July 18 to Oct. 25, arguing the series of hearings planned by the select committee could influence jurors’ opinions.
“Public impact is not limited to the hearings themselves, but to the media coverage that magnified the hearings. In Washington, D.C., where the trial will take place – and where the acts alleged in the indictment took place – every major media outlet treated the hearings as a top news story,” the attorneys wrote, adding that “every person accused of a crime is guaranteed a fair trial” under the constitution.
The filing also accused Jan. 6 panel members of making “inflammatory remarks” about Bannon and other former Trump administration officials, saying their “purported findings” have been shown in televised broadcasts including to residents in the Washington, D.C. area.
“Those broadcasts have been repackaged and re-broadcast in countless forms, creating a saturation of the information sources available to Washington, D.C. residents,” the filing said. “Under the circumstances, a continuance is warranted – to allow the effects of the Select Committee hearing coverage a chance to subside.”
The onetime White House chief strategist last year pleaded not guilty to the contempt charges, which federal prosecutors brought after Bannon failed to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee and refused to provide documents.
In their filing on Wednesday, Bannon’s attorneys noted that trials of five leaders from the far-right Proud Boys group were delayed due to the Jan. 6 hearings, with the men’s lawyers arguing they could not get a fair trial from an impartial jury amid the televised hearings.
The panel conducted its sixth hearing of the month on Tuesday and plans to resume hearings after the July 4 break.
The hearings have examined efforts by former President Trump and his allies to attempt to reverse the results of the 2020 election and put pressure on key officials not to certify President Biden’s win.
Bannon’s attorneys argued the initial July 18 trial date was aggressive and made the case that the slate of hearings scheduled by the House panel should force the trial to pick up later in the year.
“When trial was scheduled, neither the Court nor the parties were aware of the June and upcoming July media blitz by the Select Committee,” the attorneys wrote.