Lawyers for Stephen K. Bannon, who was convicted of two counts of contempt of Congress late last month, filed a motion for a new trial on Friday, arguing that the judge misinterpreted the law and wrongly prevented Bannon from calling members of Congress as witnesses.
As defense attorney David Schoen explained to Breitbart News earlier in July, 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.
The motion for a new trial raises the issue of “willfullness” again, and states:
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.
In a supplemental brief, Bannon’s counsel argues that the court improperly refused to allow Bannon to call witnesses in his own defense, including the members of Congress who claimed the authority to issue the subpoena. Instead, the January 6 Committee sent staff members who were allowed to decide what evidence they would provide or withhold under the protection of the Speech and Debate Clause.
The judge, Trump appointee Carl Nichols, could decide to order a new trial — or to overturn the jury’s verdict unilaterally, the subject of a separate motion. Bannon is due to be sentenced in October; he could face up to a year in prison for each count.
Bannon is a former adviser to then-President Donald Trump and a former executive chairman of Breitbart News.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.