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Steve Bannon

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A witness for federal prosecutors is expected to testify on Wednesday that former President Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon defied a subpoena from the congressional probe of the January 6 assault on the Capitol, at Bannon's criminal contempt of Congress trial.

Federal prosecutors are expected to continue questioning witness Kristin Amerling, the chief counsel to the House Select Committee on January 6, who told the jury on Tuesday that Bannon missed two key deadlines in October 2021 to provide documents and testimony.

Bannon, 68, has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress.

Federal prosecutor Amanda Vaughn on Tuesday told the jury that Bannon believes he is "above the law" and that he willfully failed to comply with the committee's subpoena as it investigates the attack by Trump's supporters.

Bannon's attorney Evan Corcoran, meanwhile, told the jury in his opening statement that his client was innocent of the charges.

When Bannon received the subpoena in September, Corcoran said, he consulted with his attorney Robert Costello about how to respond. Corcoran said Bannon believed that the subpoena's deadlines were not fixed and that negotiations between the parties would continue -- a practice he said is common for many of the committee's other witnesses.

The government's case is not expected to last long. After Amerling is done testifying, the government is expected to call an FBI agent and it has also said it may call an additional committee staffer, according to court filings.

It is not yet clear what witnesses, if any, Bannon's defense team may call. His attorneys have pushed for permission to compel the select committee's chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson to take the stand.

"I challenge Bennie Thompson today to have the courage to come to this courthouse. If he's going to charge somebody with a crime, he's got to be man enough to show up here," Bannon said after exiting the courthouse.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, additional reporting by Katharine Jackson; editing by Scott Malone and Aurora Ellis)

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