A federal judge said Wednesday that Steve Bannon will not be able to include as part of his trial defense any evidence that he was following the advice of his attorney in refusing to participate in the House January 6 probe.
The move by US District Judge Carl Nichols to grant the Justice Department’s request for that evidence to be excluded is a major blow to Bannon, who is scheduled to go to trial in July.
The ex-adviser to former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to the contempt of Congress charge that was brought against him after his failure to comply with a House January 6 committee subpoena for documents and testimony.
In the pre-trial proceedings, his legal team previewed a defense that would highlight the advice Bannon got from his attorney before not complying. While the House was demanding Bannon’s participation in the probe, his lawyer pointed to the indications from Trump that the former President would seek to shield certain evidence the House committee was seeking on executive privilege claims.
Nichols, a Trump appointee, said in a short order Wednesday that his decision to exclude such evidence was bound by precedent of the US DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
“After all, Licavoli involved a prosecution under the exact statute that Bannon is charged with violating,” Nichols wrote, referring to the relevant precedent, “and the Court of Appeals expressly held that an advice-of-counsel defense is unavailable for that charge.”