News organizations join Bannon’s battle to get Jan. 6 prosecution documents
A coalition of news organizations, including The Washington Post, has sided with former Trump White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon in asking a federal court to release documents that are part of Bannon’s prosecution for refusing to testify before the Jan. 6 congressional committee.
Bannon is fighting a proposal by prosecutors to keep the documents under wraps — including more than 1,000 pages of witness testimony, grand-jury proceedings and other information generated as part of the discovery process in the prosecution of Bannon for alleged contempt of Congress. Journalists would not be able to see the documents if the Justice Department prevails in persuading a judge to impose a protective order.
The legal brief submitted by The Post, the New York Times, CNN, NBC News and others creates strange bedfellows. It aligns some of the biggest news organizations with one of their harshest critics.
Bannon, who was chief executive of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and briefly Trump’s chief White House strategist, often amplified Trump’s criticism and contempt of the news media. At one point during his brief tenure at the White House, he called the media “the opposition party” and said it “should keep its mouth shut.”
He pleaded not guilty last month to two counts of contempt of Congress. The charges stemmed from his refusal to testify and to turn over material subpoenaed by the Democratic-led House committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building.
The government contends that public access to the documents would result in publicity that could taint the jury selection process and result in witness intimidation before the trial begins. Prosecutors have argued in a brief that Bannon’s public statements “make clear that defense’s real purpose [is] to abuse criminal discovery to try this case in the media rather than in court.”