A federal judge ruled that the Department of Justice must turn over internal records related to its decision to charge Steve Bannon with contempt-of-Congress, citing possible inconsistencies in its policy, Politico reports. Bannon, who many suspect of playing a large role in the leadup to the Capitol riot, maintains that he had sound legal basis for refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by the House January 6 committee. He cited long-standing DOJ legal opinions that say that former presidential advisers are mostly immune for congressional inquiries, and claims that he and his lawyers relied on these opinions when Bannon decided not to comply with the subpoena. DOJ documents obtained through Judge Carl Nichols' order may shed light on how the prosecution has attempted to justify its case and whether DOJ has drafted subsequent nonpublic legal opinions. Nichols ordered all relevant opinions to be produced, regardless of whether they are public.
Nichols, an appointee of President, was once himself a Justice Department attorney who argued in support of sweeping immunity for former advisers of George W. Bush. So far, his decisions in the leadup to trial have given both sides wins and losses. Notably, Nichols denied a request by the defense to obtain internal House committee documents related to its decision to hold Bannon in contempt. However, Nichols has noted that the prosecution may call members of the select committee as witnesses.