A US federal prosecutor said Tuesday during the Steve Bannon trial that Donald Trump’s former presidential adviser decided he was “above the law” by ignoring a summons from a US congressional committee investigating last year’s attack on the US Capitol. Is.
The prosecution and defense gave their opening statements after jurors were selected for the trial.
Bannon’s lawyer, Ivan Corcoran, said in his opening statement that Bannon did not ignore the summons and was genuinely receptive to the committee, believing that he would negotiate with his lawyer and that the deadline “wasn’t fixed, they were flexible.” was.”
Bannon, 68, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of contempt of Congress after refusing to testify or hand over documents to the Democratic-led House Select Committee.
The summons, issued last September, was “not optional, it was not a request, and it was not an invitation. It was mandatory”, prosecutor Amanda Vaughan told jurors.
“The defendant decided that he was above the law,” Vaughan said. “That’s why we are here today.”
Vaughan said the committee had reason to believe that Bannon may have had information about the events leading up to the January 6, 2021, attack. Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill and attacked police in an unsuccessful attempt to block congressional certification of his defeat in 2020. Election for Democrat Joe Biden.
Earlier, the judge in the case had rejected a request by Bannon’s lawyers to delay the start of the trial by a month.
Judge Carl Nichols previously ruled that Bannon could not claim that he failed to comply with the subpoena because he believed that his documents and testimony were protected by a legal principle called executive privilege, which is something of a presidential communication. can be kept confidential.
The judge also forbade Bannon from telling jurors that he relied on the advice of his attorney, who told him he had valid legal reasons for not responding to the summons.
Nichols left the door open for Bannon last week to offer a defense that he believed was flexible and subject to negotiation. Bannon changed his stance this month, saying he wanted to testify before a public hearing by the committee, about 10 months after he defied the summons.
There was no indication of any plans for him to do so, as the committee wants him to testify earlier in closed sessions to cover a wider range of topics. Trump told Bannon he was relinquishing any claim to executive privilege.
Bannon’s lawyers said Tuesday that they would have to convince the jury that Bannon believed executive privileges applied when he challenged the committee.