- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A federal judge on Tuesday set a mid-July start date for the trial of former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress after he stonewalled the House probe into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The date set by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols falls between the Department of Justice’s proposal to begin the trial no later than Apr. 15 and Mr. Bannon’s request to begin in mid-October.

The delayed start dashed the committee’s hopes for a fast-paced investigation and making an example of Mr. Bannon for other reluctant witnesses.

The committee did not respond to a request for comment.

In court papers filed Monday, the two legal teams highlighted key differences in opinion on the scope of the proceedings and the time needed to prepare for trial.

The prosecution said the matter is essentially an open-and-shut case requiring little preparation, while Mr. Bannon’s team said the case raises “complex constitutional issues” that the prosecution skirts.

“Some of these issues involve inter-branch relationships and on the operations of the U.S. government at its highest levels. There is no basis for having these issues adjudicated on a rushed basis,” Mr. Bannon’s team wrote.

A federal grand jury indicted Mr. Bannon last month on criminal contempt charges recommended by Congress. The Democratic-run House voted last month to send the recommendation to the Justice Department after Mr. Bannon refused to comply with a subpoena from the committee.

The panel had demanded that Mr. Bannon produce documents and appear for a scheduled deposition.

Lawmakers on the committee say Mr. Bannon was communicating with then-President Donald Trump in the lead-up to a Jan. 6 rally near the White House and made statements that they say indicated his foreknowledge that the pro-Trump mob would storm the Capitol.

Mr. Bannon told the committee that he would not participate in the investigation, citing the former president’s assertion of executive privilege. Mr. Trump’s executive privilege claim is still being battled in the courts.

Mr. Bannon, who hosts the “War Room: Pandemic” show, vowed last month after a brief court hearing that he was “going to go on the offense” and would put the Democrat-run government on trial.

“This is going to be a misdemeanor from hell for [Attorney General] Merrick Garland, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden,” he told reporters.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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