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Washington, July 18 (IANS) The trial opens Monday of Steve Bannon, adviser to former US President Donald Trump, for refusing to testify before a select congressional committee investigating the January 6 riots.

The first step in the trial will be to select the jurors.

Bannon faces two counts of misdemeanor for defying a committee subpoena to testify and provide documents.

Bannon sadly predicted the January 6 riots. “Hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” he said on a right-wing radio talk show on January 5. An excerpt from this program was broadcast by the House of Representatives select committee during a hearing in July. “Everything is converging, and now we are, as they say, at the point of attack,” he added.

The controversial adviser claimed cover of executive privilege claimed by Trump to defy the summons, despite the fact that he had held no administration post after being fired as a senior White House adviser in 2017. He had continued to advise Trump from the outside.

The select committee said Bannon did “all hell break loose” after a Jan. 5 phone conversation with Trump. The former adviser had also attended a warroom typing meeting with other Trump aides such as personal attorney Rudy. Giuliani on the same day on the next day’s rally.

The former president ordered his aides and advisers to invoke immunity under his executive privilege to refuse to cooperate with the committee.

The committee rejected Bannon’s plea and referred his case to the Justice Department to determine whether he should be prosecuted.

Bannon was charged in February with two counts.

Just before the trial began, however, Bannon dropped his challenge and offered to testify. Trump also gave her a letter granting her an exemption from executive privilege. But the select committee rejected his offer and the court refused to stop or delay the trial.

Another Trump aide, former trade adviser Peter Navarro, also faces contempt of congressional process; he was charged in June. The Justice Department, however, declined to prosecute two other Trump aides — former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former social media director Dan Scavino — who were fired by the committee for contempt.

Meadows initially cooperated with the committee and turned over thousands of documents containing text messages, emails and other communications, but withdrew personal testimony.

The select committee is expected to hold its final public hearing on Thursday. He doesn’t have the power to prosecute anyone, but the Justice Department has been closely monitoring proceedings and had previously raided two Trump-era aides who had been involved in his efforts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

–IANS
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Updated: 18-July-2022