Department of Justice prosecutors are pushing to block Steve Bannon from sharing documents he receives before his trial and are accusing him of attempting to try his case on charges of contempt of Congress through the media, according to filings made in D.C. District Court on Sunday.
The prosecutors say that some of the records must remain private while the case is pending, while Bannon, a former adviser of ex-President Donald Trump, is attempting to convince a judge not to ban him and his attorneys from releasing the documents, reports CNN.
Bannon has pleaded not guilty to two counts of contempt of Congress after he did not testify or turn over documents in a subpoena filed by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Amanda Vaughn, J.P. Cooney, and Molly Gaston, the prosecutors in the case, argued in Sunday’s filing, which was obtained by Politico, that the records Bannon has obtained contain internal communications between some congressional staffers, as well as notes of the FBI’s interviews with witnesses who could testify against him.
They also take issue with him speaking publicly about the case, including after his initial hearing, when he said the charges would be “hell” on the Biden administration.
“I’m telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden,” Bannon told journalists outside a D.C. courthouse earlier this month after his first appearance.
“Joe Biden ordered Merrick Garland to prosecute me from the White House lawn when he got off Marine One, and we’re going to go on the offense,” he claimed. “We’re tired of playing defense. We’re going to go on the offense on this.”
But the prosecution said in its filing that allowing Bannon to “publicly disseminate reports of witness statements will have the collateral effect of witness tampering because it will expose witnesses to public commentary on their potential testimony before trial and allow a witness to review summaries of other witnesses’ statements recounting the same event or events.”
They also said that Bannon’s attorneys have not taken part in good-faith negotiations on a confidentiality agreement, which the judge overseeing his case wanted.
“The defense’s misleading claims, failure to confer, unexplained wholesale opposition, and extrajudicial statements make clear the defense’s real purpose: to abuse criminal discovery to try this case in the media rather than in court,” they said.
But instead, Bannon’s defense team made a public court filing last week, as well as a statement to The Washington Post, to speak out about the case, reports Politico.
The defense and prosecution are due to return to court on Dec. 7 to discuss a trial date and confidentiality issues.