Prosecutors say Bannon seeking to ‘try this case in the media’
Federal prosecutors accused Steve Bannon and his lawyers of attempting to use the media to try the contempt of Congress charges the former White House strategist faces for defying subpoenas from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
In a court filing submitted Sunday night, the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office pushed back on the defense’s effort to unseal all evidence in the case, including grand jury testimony. The prosecutors argued that the move would be unusual and extreme in a criminal case.
“The defense’s misleading claims, failure to confer, unexplained wholesale opposition, and extrajudicial statements make clear the defense’s real purpose: to abuse criminal discovery to try this case in the media rather than in court,” the prosecutors wrote.
Bannon pleaded not guilty earlier this month to two counts of contempt of Congress, both misdemeanors, for refusing to comply with select committee subpoenas for documents and testimony about his involvement in the events of Jan. 6 and his communications with with the White House under former President Trump.
He told reporters that the case against him would be the “misdemeanor from hell” for President Biden and Democratic leaders, vowing to “go on offense.”
Bannon’s lawyers filed a motion last week seeking to release all of the prosecution’s evidence and grand jury testimony. They wrote that a protective order, which outlines certain evidence that should be kept under seal during a criminal case, would “prejudice” a potential trial against Bannon.
“The Government’s proposed order would give it the ability to influence what documents are available for use by defense counsel in preparing a defense and engaging in motions practice,” the defense lawyers wrote in the filing.
In their response on Sunday, the prosecutors said that releasing all of the materials would undermine the privacy of any witnesses who may have testified to the grand jury, and could taint any testimony that they might give during trial.
“The defendant’s threat of ‘going on offense’ and making this case ‘hell’ cannot be ignored when considering these witnesses’ privacy interests in their personal background information,” the prosecutors’ filing reads.
A pretrial hearing in the case will be held on Dec. 7.