By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A judge set a July 18 trial date on Tuesday for Steve Bannon, who served as chief strategist to former President Donald Trump, on criminal charges of contempt of Congress for defying a House of Representatives inquiry into the deadly Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot.
The date, announced by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, represented a compromise between timelines sought during a hearing by the prosecution and Bannon's lawyers. Prosecutors wanted a trial in mid-April, while Bannon's lawyers asked for a date in mid-October to give them more time to prepare.
"In the Jan. 6 criminal cases involving the people who were in the Capitol or committed violence in the Capitol, none of those cases have yet gone to trial for indictments that happened in January," Nichols said.
The judge noted that the case against Bannon, by contrast, is a misdemeanor and yet prosecutors want to move at "light speed." At the same time, Nichols added, a proposal for an October trial would be "too slow."
Bannon was indicted https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-justice-department-indicts-bannon-not-complying-with-jan-6-subpoena-2021-11-12 last month on one contempt count for refusing to appear for a deposition before the House select committee investigating the riot and a second count for refusing to produce documents as requested. He has pleaded not guilty https://www.reuters.com/world/us/former-trump-adviser-bannon-enters-plea-not-guilty-obstructing-jan-6-2021-11-17.
The Democratic-led House voted in October to hold Bannon in contempt, leaving it up to the Justice Department, headed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, to decide on bringing charges.
A mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a failed attempt to prevent formal congressional certification of his 2020 presidential election loss to Biden. The select committee is scrutinizing Trump's actions relating to those events.
Bannon has refused to cooperate with the committee, citing Trump's insistence that he has a right to keep the requested material confidential under a legal doctrine called executive privilege. Bannon is the first to face criminal charges arising from the panel's inquiry.
The prosecution anticipates needing only one day of testimony at the trial, but Bannon's lawyers anticipate the trial running at least 10 days, according to a court filing.
Bannon served as a top adviser to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign before becoming White House chief strategist in 2017. He has promoted a variety of right-wing causes and candidates in the United States and abroad.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham)