STORY: Steve Bannon thought he was “above the law,” according to a federal prosecutor on Tuesday.
The former presidential advisor is on trial for defying a subpoena from the House Select Committee that’s investigating last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The prosecution and defense delivered opening statements after 12 jurors were selected in the morning.
Evan Corcoran, a lawyer for Bannon, said in his opening statement that Bannon did not ignore the subpoena.
He argued that the Donald Trump ally thought the committee would negotiate with his attorney, and that its deadlines "were flexible."
Corcoran said committee staff and lawyers for proposed witnesses almost always negotiate - and witnesses often appear at a date later than the one in the subpoena.
But prosecutor Amanda Vaughn told the jurors, the subpoena issued last September "wasn't optional. It wasn't a request. And it wasn't an invitation. It was mandatory."
She added, "The defendant decided he was above the law. That's why we're here today."
Later, the first government witness testified- the Jan. 6 committee's general counsel, Kristin Amerling.
She explained the committee’s authority expires at the end of the year, so it is “absolutely” important that people comply with subpoena deadlines.
Upon exiting court in Washington, Bannon went on a rant to the media against his case and the current president, and repeated the false claims that Trump lost the 2020 election due to widespread fraud.
“Trump won. Joe Biden is illegitimate."
“We have a constitutional crisis in this nation right now and they're charging me with a crime.”
The 68-year-old has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress, for refusing to provide information to the select committee.
Though he reversed course this month and said he wanted to testify in public.