In October, Trump-ally and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was convicted of contempt of court for refusing to testify before the Jan. 6 Select Committee. Two legal experts report that a higher court will likely overturn his conviction.
Bannon was sentenced to 120 days in jail for “failing to comply with a congressional subpoena” but has not begun serving his sentence — which, according to legal analyst and Fox News contributor Gregg Jarrett, likely indicates the judge expects his ruling to be overturned.
Jarrett noted in an article on his website this week: “Even U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols recognizes that Bannon’s contempt conviction is likely to get tossed out, which is why he took the extraordinary step of issuing a stay of sentence pending appeal.”
Jarrett went on to say that he believes Bannon has “strong legal grounds” to have his conviction overturned.
Jarrett argues that Nichols wrongfully determined that Bannon was acting in “willful defiance of a subpoena,” a technical violation of a code stemming from a “61-year-old circuit court case … decision that was later repudiated by the high court and overturned.”
Jarrett supported his assertion by noting:
“When Bannon was subpoenaed by the J-6 Committee, Trump’s lawyer sent him a letter stating that the president invoked executive privilege and therefore directed him not to testify. Trump holds the privilege, not Bannon. Under law, Bannon cannot waive it or violate it. So, on advice of his own counsel, Bannon declined to testify. It was the correct advice.”
Noting the ramifications of the judge’s error, Jarrett wrote:
“The correct standard, as the Supreme Court has since enunciated, is that prosecutors must show that the defendant knew his actions were unlawful. But if a defendant believes his response to the subpoena is lawful, then he cannot be convicted. Judge Nichols erred in barring Bannon from presenting that defense.
“Here, Bannon relied on advice from his lawyer that he could not testify because of executive privilege. Thus, Bannon thought he was acting lawfully. As long as he relied on that advice in good faith, he did not violate the law and should never have been held in contempt and convicted.”
“It’s nonsensical for prosecutors to claim that executive privilege didn’t apply or that Biden waived his predecessor’s privilege. It is well established that the privilege covers both employees of an administration and non-employees alike.
“It’s important for presidents to seek outside advice instead of always relying on insiders who tend to tell him what he wants to hear. Moreover, if a subsequent president can waive his predecessor’s privilege, then it renders the privilege meaningless.”
“There is no law that says Biden has the authority to waive someone else’s executive privilege. None. Just the opposite is true. Only the president who invokes the privilege holds the privilege and can waive it.”
Speaking with Newsmax host Greta Van Susteren after a jury in Washington, D.C., convicted Bannon of contempt last summer, famed attorney Alan Dershowitz called the conviction “entirely in violation of the Constitution.”
“The only provision of the Constitution, which appears basically twice, is trial by jury in and in front of a fair jury,” Dershowitz said. “Number one, he didn’t have a fair jury. Number two, the Judge took his defenses away from him.”
Noting the difficulty of finding an unbiased court in Washington, D.C., Van Susteren said the D.C. district where the trial was held is “94 percent Democrat.” Dershowitz responded by saying, “Well, not only that, but probably 97 percent Trump haters.”
Dershowitz also quipped: “And all you had to do was say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this man Bannon worked for Trump.’ That’s the end of the case.”
Dershowitz predicted: “I think it’s very likely that this conviction will be reversed at some point.”
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