CNN host stumps Steve Bannon's lawyer with series of Jan. 6 questions

Bannon's attorney David Schoen desperately tried to defend his client, Brianna Keilar pushed back

By Alex Henderson

Published November 17, 2021 4:55AM (EST)

Steve Bannon (Getty/Sean Gallup)
Steve Bannon (Getty/Sean Gallup)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has been indicted on charges of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena to testify before the House select committee on the January 6 insurrection. Bannon's attorney David Schoen vigorously defended his client during a November 16 appearance on CNN's "New Day," but he clearly met his match in host Brianna Keilar — who wasn't about to let him get away with misleading claims.

Bannon has maintained that because former President Donald Trump enjoyed "executive privilege" on January 6, he cannot testify before the House committee. Schoen echoed those claims on "New Day," but Keilar clearly got the better of him.

Schoen argued that because Trump enjoyed executive privilege, that applied to Bannon as well. Keilar, however, reminded Schoen, "Trump did not formally invoke privilege with the committee."

Schoen, sounding frustrated with Keilar's questioning, angrily responded, "You keep saying that, and I'm telling you that Mr. Bannon advised the committee that he was advised by President Trump, in writing, that he is not to appear and not to answer the questions — which, by the way, is supported by the Office of Legal Counsel also when an executive member of the executive branch is subpoenaed."

But Keilar reminded Schoen, "Many of the things you say, a court has not found in favor of. Some of these things are squishy, or they're very much theoretical, just to be clear. Nonetheless, this committee has outlined 17 categories of documents that it sought from Steve Bannon. Does Bannon have them?"

Schoen responded, "I don't know. I'm not going into those details now. As I say, I just got hired on Sunday. Today was the first day I've seen the subpoena in the case. So, I'm not prepared to talk about that. I'm prepared to talk about the process."

Keilar was more than happy to discuss "process" with Schoen, pointing out that "advice of counsel is not a defense when it comes to contempt of Congress charges such as this."

Keilar told Schoen: "It is very clear: There was a 1961 decision. This isn't even anything recent. It is very clear, and you know that."

Keilar went on to play Schoen a clip of Bannon, during a January 5 segment of his "War Room" podcast, infamously saying, "All hell is going to break loose tomorrow…. Tomorrow, it's Game Day. So, strap in." And Schoen claimed, "He's not talking about violence" — inspiring Keilar to ask, "You're saying he had no foreknowledge of the events that played out on January 6?"

"I'm not in a position to speak on his behalf about any foreknowledge," Schoen told Keilar — to which she responded, "Yes you are. You're his lawyer."

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Alternet Capitol Riots Cnn Donald Trump Jan. 6 Steve Bannon