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DOJ: Bannon attempts ‘frivolous’ effort to turn court case into media spectacle

The DOJ salvo comes as Bannon attempts to significantly slow down the criminal proceedings against him. Bannon used a court appearance earlier this month to foreshadow efforts to delay the case for months. Judge Carl Nichols has pushed back that effort and has set a December 7 hearing to review the schedule.

Bannon’s case is a crucial marker for Congressional investigators seeking to force recalcitrant witnesses to the Jan.6 uprising on Capitol Hill to come before them and provide documents and testimony. The Justice Department brought charges against Bannon after the panel was fired in October, a move that lawmakers say has already helped other resistant witnesses start talks.

But Bannon has made it clear that he intends to use his legal proceedings as a forum to cause upheaval for Democratic leaders and the DOJ.

“I’m telling you right now, it will be hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden,” Bannon told reporters just outside the entrance to a courthouse after his first court hearing earlier this month.

“Joe Biden ordered Merrick Garland to chase me from the White House lawn when he got off Marine One, and we’re going to go on the offensive. We are tired of playing defense. We’re going to go on the offensive on this, ”Bannon said.

Prosecutors pointed to Bannon’s combative statements as evidence that he intended to create a public spectacle around his trial rather than defend himself on the merits.

“The deceptive and frivolous nature of the defendant’s claims of prejudice demonstrates that they are only a cover for the real reason the defendant opposes a protection order in this case and which he and his lawyer have expressed in their out-of-court statements – that the defendant wishes to have a trial by the press, ”Vaughn wrote.

At the heart of the matter is Bannon’s claim that the DOJ is trying to prevent him from disclosing or publicly discussing documents that are already part of the public record – namely letters between his lawyers and the January 6 committee explaining his refusal to testify.

“Sir. Bannon has the right to a public trial,” Corcoran wrote in a filing Wednesday. “One aspect of a fair trial is to ensure public access to court proceedings and records.”

But the DOJ said Bannon’s attorney never engaged with them to discuss modifying the agreement to allow public disclosure of documents that were already in the public domain – a compromise they said that they would have easily accepted.

Other files, Vaughn added, should be kept under wraps pending trial. These documents include “testimonies and grand jury exhibits, law enforcement reports on witness interviews, and select committee internal communications among committee staff, none of whom regularly communicate or communicate with others. its functions in a public forum ”.

The summary is a window into the evidence prosecutors intend to deploy against Bannon as they seek a conviction on a charge that has rarely been upheld in the past 50 years.

“Specific harm will occur if the circulation of these documents is not restricted to those identified in the proposed protection order,” Vaughn wrote.

And the DOJ added that allowing Bannon to cope with the evidence in the case – such as releasing witness statements – would amount to tampering with witnesses as it would subject witnesses to public attack before they testify and allow also for other witnesses to know what testimony to expect. .

The Washington Federal District Court has rules limiting public statements by attorneys on criminal matters and allowing judges to impose gag orders on attorneys and defendants in “high profile or sensational cases.”

At a court hearing earlier this month following Bannon’s first attack on the prosecution, the judge made no mention of the fiery remarks.

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