Prosecutors Argue That Steve Bannon Felt He Was 'Above the Law' in Ignoring a Federal Subpoena

The former top Trump aide is currently on trial for ignoring a deadline to answer a federal subpoena, and prosecutors believe it "wasn't an accident"

Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors this week argued that Steve Bannon refused to comply with a subpoena issued by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riots for one simple reason: He felt he was "above the law."

The former top aide to President Donald Trump is currently on trial for ignoring the deadline to answer the subpoena. His attorneys have argued that Bannon, 68, believed the deadlines to sit for questioning were optional, and that charges against him were politically motivated.

Insider reports that, in the government's opening argument to jurors, U.S. attorney Amanda Vaughn said the case "is about the defendant thumbing his nose at the orderly processes of our government. It is that simple."

"It wasn't optional. It wasn't a request, and it wasn't an invitation. It was mandatory," Vaughn said, per Insider. "The defendant decided he was above the law … and that's why we're here today."

Outlets report that prosecutors called the House committee's deputy staff director and chief counsel, Kristin Amerling, to the stand following opening arguments to stress the urgency of obtaining Bannon's testimony prior to midterm elections.

Noting that the committee could be dissolved if Republicans retake the House majority, Amerling said the committee has "a limited amount of time."

Bannon left his role as Trump's White House strategist in Aug. 2017 but eventually moved back in to the former president's good graces.

He was among the first four witnesses in Trump's inner circle to be subpoenaed by the committee, which wrote in a letter dated Sept. 23 it has reason to believe Bannon has relevant information on "important activities that led to and informed" the Jan. 6 insurrection, including his comments on Jan. 5 that "all hell is going to break loose tomorrow."

Bannon was directed to produce documents by Oct. 7 and appear for a deposition a week later but missed those deadlines. In November, he was indicted by a federal grand jury on contempt of Congress charges for failing to comply with the subpoena. The Justice Department announced two counts against Bannon at the time — one for refusing to sit for a deposition and another for refusing to provide the committee with relevant documents.

Each count of contempt of Congress carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of $100 to $1,000, the Justice Department said.

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He surrendered to the FBI days later.

Just before being taken into FBI custody, Bannon spoke to reporters, claiming: "We're taking down the Biden regime," and adding that his indictment was "all noise."

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