Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:

Steve Bannon stood trial on contempt of Congress charges.

  • Bannon was indicted last November after he refused to comply with a subpoena to testify and provide documents to the January 6th Committee. 
  • Before the trial started, district judge Carl Nichols rejected Bannon’s requests to postpone the proceedings. Bannon argued, among other things, that there was too much pretrial publicity around the case — including the Committee’s public hearings.
  • During opening statements, assistant U.S. attorney Amanda Vaughn said that by failing to comply with the subpoena, Bannon “chose to show his contempt for Congress’ authority and its processes.” “It wasn’t optional, it wasn’t a request and it wasn’t an invitation. It was mandatory,” Vaughn continued. In his defense, Bannon’s attorney, Evan Corcoran, told the jurors that the charges and the evidence are “affected by politics.” Corcoran also said that Bannon should have had an opportunity to negotiate deadlines with the Committee.
  • At trial, the prosecution called two witnesses. House staffer Kristin Amerling testified that Bannon failed to comply with all aspects of the subpoena. The other prosecution witness was FBI special agent Stephen Hart, who testified about Bannon’s social media posts after he received the subpoena. Bannon’s team did not present a defense to the jury.
  • Bannon served as the Trump White House’s chief strategist in 2017. His involvement in the planning for January 6th has come under scrutiny since the House Committee revealed that he spoke with former President Donald Trump at least twice on January 5th, 2021 — and, in between the phone calls, Bannon appeared on an episode of his podcast in which he said, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

The Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney is conducting an investigation into the efforts by Trump and his allies to interfere in the 2020 presidential election results in the state.

  • DA Fani Willis launched the investigation in February 2021, which has focused on the pressure that Trump and others put on state and local officials to overturn the election results. Willis empaneled a special grand jury for the matter earlier this year.
  • On Wednesday, a judge ordered Rudy Giuliani to testify before the grand jury. Giuliani initially signaled that he would fight to quash the subpoena, but he failed to appear at the hearing. Willis also issued subpoenas to a number of other Trump attorneys, including John Eastman, Jenna Ellis, Kenneth Chesebro, Cleta Mitchell, and Jacki Pick Deason.
  • On Tuesday, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham agreed to testify before the grand jury. Willis is seeking Graham’s testimony because he called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger at least two times in the weeks following the 2020 election. Raffensperger says that Graham asked him if he had the authority to throw out absentee ballots in an effort to “explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.”
  • Prosecutors are also looking into the scheme to send fake, pro-Trump electors to Congress. Willis has informed the sixteen individuals who took part in the scheme that they may face charges for their conduct, as detailed in a recent court filing.

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