Steve Bannon trial under way after he defied January 6 congressional subpoena

House committee investigating January 6 insurrection says adviser spoke to Donald Trump at least twice before day of assault on Capitol

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon is to go on trial for defying a congressional subpoena related to the investigation into the January 6, 2021, insurrection. AP
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Jury selection was completed on Monday in the trial of Steve Bannon, a former presidential adviser to Donald Trump, for defying a congressional subpoena in relation to the investigation of the January 6, 2021, insurrection.

Mr Bannon was indicted in November on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress, one month after the US House of Representatives voted to have him charged for defying his subpoena to appear before the January 6 committee.

A 22-person jury was selected on Monday to hear the case.

The panel will be cut down to 12 jurors and two alternates on Tuesday, and opening arguments will begin in what is expected to be a quick trial.

Much of the questioning of potential jurors by Mr Bannon’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, centred on how much of the January 6 hearings they had watched and whether they had opinions about the committee and its work.

In one case, a prospective juror flatly told US District Judge Carl Nichols that remaining impartial would be “a challenge” for him because, “I do believe he [Bannon] is guilty.”

That admission disqualified the potential juror and prompted questioning of others who sat next to him to determine how widely he had shared his opinion.

The trial follows a week of furious activity from Mr Bannon's camp, in which he agreed to testify before the House committee during a public hearing.

“Mr Bannon is willing to, and indeed prefers, to testify at your public hearing,” said a letter from his lawyer Robert Costello to the committee's chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson.

Mr Trump, who has attacked the committee in the past, said he would waive executive privilege so Mr Bannon could testify.

The House committee has said that Mr Bannon did not have executive privilege, noting he was not a White House official at the time of the January 6 attack.

US District Judge Carl Nichols ruled that Mr Bannon could not use executive privilege as a defence in his case.

And Mr Bannon failed to persuade a US judge to delay his trial, for which he said the committee's public hearings would make it more difficult to have an impartial jury.

The panel last week provided evidence that he spoke to Mr Trump at least twice before the day of the assault on the Capitol.

The committee also played a clip of Mr Bannon saying “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow” on a right-wing talk show that day.

He made those comments after his first call with Mr Trump, the committee said.

On Thursday the committee could wrap up what may be its final public hearing, to be aired in prime time, that members said would show the former president's “dereliction of duty” on January 6.

News agencies contributed to this report

Updated: July 19, 2022, 6:02 AM