A federal judge on Wednesday rejected former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s effort to dismiss the criminal contempt case against him for defying a subpoena from the Jan. 6 House committee, Politico reports. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols rebuffed a series of Bannon arguments, including that Trump had asserted executive privilege to block his former aide's testimony. Nichols said evidence is insufficient that Trump truly did assert privilege or seek to block Bannon from testifying to the panel investigating the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Nichols rejected Bannon’s claim that internal Justice Department opinions granted him “immunity” from a congressional subpoena for documents related to his contacts with Trump. Nichols said Bannon’s team had not presented evidence that DOJ’s opinions applied in his case.
The ruling is a win for the Justice Department against Bannon, who is expected to go on trial next month on two charges of contempt of Congress. After the Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed him in September, Bannon refused to appear or provide any documents. The House held Bannon in contempt in mid-October. In another win for the select committee, Nichols declined to rule that the structure or make-up of the committee undercut the validity of Bannon's subpoena, sweeping aside arguments that the panel was operating improperly because it lacks any appointees of House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy. Nichols noted that the House repeatedly ratified the work of the committee by voting to support its motions to hold various witnesses in contempt, an indication that the House viewed the committee's work as valid. He said courts must respect the House's interpretation of its own rules.