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‘Blow up the whole system’

Steve Bannon – the right-wing media personality turned adviser to Donald Trump turned right-wing media personality – became the first person in nearly 40 years to be indicted for contempt of Congress last month after he refused to cooperate with the House Committee investigating the January 6 uprising. Now, Bannon appears to be using his criminal case to track down the committee that tracked him down.

Bannon is trying to force investigators to potentially reveal who they spoke to and what they said, look through confidential communications within the committee and create a book for protest witnesses. other, according to some legal experts.

“There is no cost to opposing Congress if you can get Congress to keep an eye on you daring to question you,” said Kel McClanahan, a lawyer specializing in national security matters.

When Bannon faces criminal charges, he has the right to have evidence against him. And in a typical galactic brain, partner Bannon, a former senior Trump adviser, is trying to make some of that evidence public.

Follow a Sunday night apply to court by federal prosecutors, including secret witness interviews by law enforcement agencies and internal communications between House committee members. The Justice Department stated that the document, if released to the public, would cause “specific harm” such as “fake witness” or the inability to find fair jurors at a hearing. court in the future.

In one apply to court On Tuesday, Bannon’s lawyers said the government’s argument was “decorated with hype… perhaps designed to score points with the media.” That same day, the “press coalition” of 15 news organizations — including Buzzfeed, CNN, and washington articles—Sided with Bannon and ask the judge overseeing the case to provide documents and refute what it calls “this broad gag order”.

But while most press report of this war has depended on the allegation that Bannon is trying to turn this into a media circus or spectacle, some legal scholars say the real aim is to harm the investigation itself. One called it “graymail,” a legal defense tactic equivalent to extortion and has since been outlawed.

“It is not to try the case in the media. McClanahan told The Daily Beast it would cost the committee a lot of money. “It’s graymail, pure and simple: You can’t touch me, because if you do I’ll reveal your secret.”

In that sense, Bannon is raising costs to go after him in earnest — making good on his promise to turn this into “misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. ”

Bannon’s attorneys for the case did not respond to repeated questions from The Daily Beast. However, in court documents, they strongly objected to the idea that Bannon’s strategy was to use evidence inappropriately.

“This is a misdemeanor case,” they wrote in the form Tuesday. “It was not a case where witnesses were intimidated. In the absence of any concrete, concrete indication of actual harm, the Government will present a scammer. “

Instead, Bannon’s attorneys said, “it is not an improper purpose to be able to use discovery documents to identify and interrogate witnesses.”

There’s no sign that Bannon’s team wants to mess things up. His lawyers drafted a Suggested orders for the judge to keep secret the documents produced on the grand jury that prosecute him on 12 November.

Bannon is being represented by two attorneys in his criminal contempt case. Follow National Law Review. The other is David I. Schoen, one of the lawyers representing Trump in his second impeachment trial in the US Senate.

Bannon spokeswoman Alexandra Preate did not comment, citing the legal filings in the case.

But other lawyers say the overall tactic of opening the safe so early in a trial is unprecedented, a prelude to an uphill battle ahead.

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“WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 15: Former Trump Administration White House adviser Steve Bannon speaks to the press on his way out of federal court on November 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. Bannon was charged on Friday with two counts of contempt of Congress after refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty) Images)”

Drew Angerer

“Normally this doesn’t happen,” said Jennifer Rodgers, a former Manhattan federal prosecutor who now teaches at Columbia University.

“It may not really be about the content of any particular document. It could be about the process,” she said.

The attorneys who followed the case generally agreed that disclosing the committee’s work while the investigation was still underway could expose the public to criticism and potentially impede its work. Committee. But the real damage could simply come from throwing a wrench in any future prosecutions of others who refuse to answer the committee’s questions, like former White House Chief of Staff Mark. Meadows, who was threatened with contempt by the commission for not cooperating. The same goes for Jeffrey Clark, the former Justice Department official who allegedly tried to get the DOJ to help Trump overturn the 2020 election, who declined to answer questions and was dropped by the committee. “contempt” vote on Wednesday night.

Given that most congressional contempt cases would be roughly the same, the introduction of witnesses in Bannon’s case would give other dissidents a foretaste of what was to come.

“That was one of his goals: to try to make it more difficult for the committee to enforce their subpoenas in the future,” said Jonathan David Shaub, a University of Kentucky law professor who was once working at the Ministry of Justice, said.

“It’s a chilling effect,” Shaub added. “If you know you’re going to have to divulge tons of information, you probably won’t prosecute that first time until you have the others.”

The January 6 Uprising Select Committee, led by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, was unavailable for comment.

US District Judge Carl J. Nichols, who was appointed to the bench by Trump in 2019, has yet to rule on whether the documents in question should be made public.

At this point, all eyes are really on the upcoming decision by the District of Columbia court of appeals on Trump’s legal battle against the committee, which will determine whether the former president has any arguments. any legitimacy of executive privilege left over when he left the White House. That case could augment or mask claims currently being made by Bannon, Clark and others — that they can’t say because Trump has said so.

But Trump’s fickle loyalty to his subordinates could have had a more immediate impact – as evidenced by how quickly he turned his back on former longtime attorney Michael Cohen, who later became a thorn in the side. on his side.

Case in point: how Trump turned on Meadows this week.

After writing a book primarily about Trump’s time as chief of staff, Trump refuted a story on Wednesday that Meadows wrote in his forthcoming book.

Meadows writes that Trump tested positive for COVID before his first debate with Joe Biden, days before either Trump or the White House revealed he had coronavirus.

Trump immediately threw Meadows under the bus and released a statement calling the report “Fake News.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/steve-bannons-jan-6-legal-strategy-blowing-up-the-whole-system?source=articles&via=rss ‘Blow up the whole system’

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