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US judge considers delaying ex-Trump adviser Bannon’s trial in evidence dispute – 07/19/2022

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge said on Tuesday he would consider delaying the criminal trial of Steve Bannon, a key former presidential aide to Donald Trump, after a subpoena from lawmakers investigating last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Bannon faces two counts of obstruction of Congress after refusing to provide testimony or documents last year to a Democratic-led House committee investigating the case.

The court was to finalize the selection of 12 jurors and two alternates from the 22-member panel on Tuesday. The case was delayed as District Judge Carl Nichols dealt with a dispute between the two sides over what evidence the defense could present.

The judge rejected a request by Bannon’s lawyers to delay the trial for a month, but said he would consider a shorter delay — perhaps a few days — and ordered the parties to discuss the issues during a lunch break.

Nichols previously ruled that Bannon could not claim to have violated the subpoena because he believed his documents and statements were protected by a legal doctrine known as executive privilege that can keep certain presidential communications secret.

The judge also barred jurors from telling Bannon he relied on the advice of his attorney, who told him he had valid legal reasons for not responding to the subpoena.

Nichols left the door open last week to offer Bannon a defense that he believed the subpoena’s timeline was flexible and negotiable. Bannon reversed course this month and said he intends to testify before the committee’s public hearings, nearly 10 months after defying the subpoena.

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There are no plans for him to do so, as the panel wants him to testify first in closed sessions covering a wide range of subjects. Trump told Bannon that he was waiving any claim to executive privilege.

Bannon’s lawyers hoped to explain to the jury on Tuesday that executive privilege was invoked when he challenged the panel.

As potential jurors waited outside the courtroom, attorneys and prosecutors debated whether communications between the group and Bannon’s attorneys could be introduced into evidence and, if so, whether the documents should be redacted because they reference executive privilege.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, additional reporting by Kanishka Singh)