A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Stephen Bannon could not say he was relying on his attorney’s advice to defy a congressional subpoena when the former Trump adviser stands trial for contempt this summer.
In a four-page decision, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols rejected Bannon’s argument that he should be allowed to raise the legal defense despite court precedent that finds it invalid in the context of charges of contempt of Congress.
The ruling is a blow to Bannon’s legal defense, as his attorneys hoped to argue at trial that he was relying on their good faith advice when he defied a House Select Committee subpoena on May 6. january.
Bannon was indicted in November on contempt charges after Congress issued a criminal referral to the Justice Department in response to his denial.
Congress then voted to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in defiance of his own defiance of a select committee subpoena. But Democrats are growing increasingly frustrated because federal prosecutors have yet to press charges nearly four months after the House issued his criminal remand.
On Wednesday, the select committee is due to vote on whether to send two other former Trump aides — Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro — back to the full House for a vote of contempt.
The decision by Nichols, a Trump appointee, could make it harder for select committee targets to justify disregarding congressional subpoenas if the Justice Department continues to press charges against House remands.
An attorney for Bannon did not immediately respond when asked to comment.
Bannon’s trial is scheduled to begin on July 18.