The strategist and ideologue of Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, faces a trial from this Monday in which he could be sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison for contempt of the United States Congress. The process is due to the fact that Bannon has refused to testify before the House of Representatives Commission that investigates the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 by the supporters of Donald Trump to prevent the ratification of the electoral victory of Joe Biden in the presidential elections. In the US, summons to testify before Congress is, at least in theory, equivalent to a court summons, and is punishable by jail time.
Bannon seems to have the process lost in advance. On Monday of last week, in a session prior to the opening of the trial, the judge in the case, Carl J. Nichols, literally destroyed the arguments of the former Trump adviser’s lawyers. The damage was so great that, as he left the courthouse, one of Bannon’s lawyers, David Schoen, lamented: “What is the purpose of a trial if there is no defense?” The paradox is greater because Nichols was proposed for the position by the Department of Justice during the presidency of Donald Trump.
In the US, it is understood that, as a general rule, presidents appoint judges who are ideologically close, but it gives the impression that the judges nominated by Trump were either Democratic ‘moles’, or are aware that the actions of the advisers to the former president in the controversy of the 2020 elections is insurmountable no matter where you look. In May, for example, another justice appointed by the former president, Timothy J. Kelly, rejected a request by the Republican National Committee to block the delivery of emails to the Commission dated January 6.
According to American jurists, the only possible defense for the self-proclaimed ideologue of American right-wing populism (although Bannon’s ambitions and ego are rather global) is to claim that he did not understand the Committee’s subpoena. It is a desperate excuse, which, moreover, collides with the ego of the accused, and which, finally, is contradictory to the statements that Bannon has made in these months.
Trump’s former electoral strategist and ‘senior’ political adviser in the first six months of his presidency, has refused to go to the Commission alleging that it has a political intention and that he cannot testify because his communications with Donald Trump they were protected by what is called ‘presidential privilege’, which is the secret in conversations between the head of state and his collaborators. To reinforce the confrontation a little more, Bannon has demanded that the president of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, also be called to testify before the Committee.
These demands, apart from not having legal validity, tightened the rope between the Committee and Bannon, which explains why the controversy ends up in court. Because it’s very rare for Congress to take someone’s refusal to testify to these extremes. Bannon has become the exception precisely because of his confrontation with the Committee. In recent weeks, the former Trump adviser has radically changed his tune. Now he is willing to testify, and the former president himself has authorized him to do so. His redemption, however, comes too late for Justice, which is also going to try another Trump adviser, Peter Navarro, for the same decision not to testify before the Committee.
For now, the trial is in the juror selection phase, which is likely to be a lengthy process. Bannon is so well known in the US that practically everyone has an opinion about him, which calls into question the independence of the people who will have to judge whether he is innocent or guilty. The fact that the trial is also being held in the city of Washington, which is the most Democratic territory in the entire United States, suggests that, if it were up to the jury, Bannon would end up sentenced in Guantanamo.
Bannon is also at the center of another controversy over the assault on Congress on January 6, after last week ‘The Nation’ magazine published a recording made a week before the 2020 elections, in which he states that President Donald Trump was going to declare himself the winner of the elections before the counting of the votes was over. That was, point by point, Trump’s strategy, raising new questions about whether the president and his advisers intended to carry out voter fraud in a premeditated manner.
In any case, the trial is a severe blow for the man who has been Donald Trump’s strategist and ideologue in 2016 and 2017, and who only left the White House after losing a power struggle with the president’s daughter and son-in-law. , Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Bannon also tried to create, with more glory than sorrow, a kind of ‘populist international’ in Europe, where he maintained more or less informal contacts with various parties, such as the French National Front, the Italian Five Star Movement and, according to some , Vox, although the party led by Santiago Abascal denies it.
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