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Bannon Files Motion for New Trial; Cites Improper Rulings by Judge

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Lawyers for Steve Bannon have filed a motion for a new trial, arguing the judge misinterpreted the law and wrongly prevented Bannon from calling members of Congress as witnesses.

While speaking with Breitbart News, defense attorney David Schoen explained that the court adopted a narrow view of the standard of “willfulness,” holding that Bannon could be convicted even if he followed the advice of his lawyers.

Bannon’s motion for a new trial will question the meaning of “wilfulness” again.

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“Mr. Bannon was barred from putting on any evidence or argument that he never believed he was doing anything unlawful; and indeed, understood and believed that he responded to the subpoena in the only way the law permitted, once executive privilege was invoked. How to respond to a congressional subpoena, let alone when executive privilege is invoked, certainly is not an intuitive process; but Mr. Bannon was prohibited from putting on evidence or argument that he relied on his experienced lawyer’s direction that the law prohibited him from complying with the subpoena,” the motion states.

Another prominent attorney argued that Bannon’s guilty verdict could be overturned.

In an interview with Newsmax host Greta Van Susteren, former Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz spoke about a jury in Washington, D.C., convicting Bannon on two charges of contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena.

Dershowitz called the conviction “entirely in violation of the Constitution” and predicted that a higher court will “very likely” overturn it.

“The only provision of the Constitution, which appears basically twice, is trial by jury in and in front of a fair jury. Number one, he didn’t have a fair jury. Number two, the judge took his defenses away from him,” Dershowitz said.

After Van Susteren said the D.C. district where the trial was held is “94 percent Democrat,” Dershowitz chimed in, “Well, not only that, but probably 97 percent Trump haters.”

Dershowitz added: “And all you had to do was say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this man Bannon worked for Trump.’ That’s the end of the case.”

“Entirely predictable and entirely in violation of the Constitution. The only provision of the Constitution which appears basically twice is trial by jury, in front of a fair jury. Number one he didn’t have a fair jury. Number two the judge took his defenses away from him. The judge denied him a jury trial. They wouldn’t allow him to put on evidence that he believed there was an executive privilege involved and he wanted a judicial determination before he violated the executive privilege. That issue could not be presented to the jury,” Dershowitz said.

“As I predicted on this show and other shows before this conviction was a foregone conclusion. The only issue is will it be reversed by an appeal. Either by the appellate court in the District of Columbia or by the Supreme Court. I think it’s very likely that this conviction will be reversed at some point,” Dershowitz added.

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Politico’s Josh Gerstein published a story noting, “any actual jail time for Bannon in the case could be modest and may be years away. And the significant restraints the judge put on the defenses Bannon could offer at trial raise issues that could find traction at an appeals court or even the Supreme Court.”

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols kicked off Bannon’s trial by oddly telling his lawyers they could not cross-examine anyone on the stand in a way that would suggest the case against him is politically motivated.

“I do not intend for this to become a political case, a political circus, a forum for partisan politics,” Nichols said.

Prior to that, Nichols denied Bannon’s request to delay the trial for one month.

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Evan Corcoran, Bannon’s attorney, said there was a “seismic shift” in the parties’ understanding surrounding the judge’s past rulings.

Nichols also denied Bannon’s attempt to delay his trial on criminal contempt of Congress charges stemming from the Democrat-led investigation into the incident at the U.S. Capitol 18 months ago.

Nichols rejected a motion from Bannon to delay it until at least mid-October.

The judge also denied a request from his attorneys to delay the trial after they said that they were concerned about a biased jury because of the media coverage of the January 6 committee hearings.

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“While I am certainly cognizant of Mr. Bannon’s concerns regarding publicity, in my view the correct mechanism at this time for addressing that concern is through the [jury selection] process,” the judge said.

“What is the point of going to trial here if there are no defenses?” Bannon’s attorney David Schoen said.

“Agreed,” the judge said.

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