Steve Bannon's lawyer asks to leave Jan. 6-related case, says he may be witness

WASHINGTON, July 8 (Reuters) - A lawyer for Steve Bannon is seeking to withdraw from representing the adviser to former President Donald Trump in his criminal contempt case, citing the possibility of being called as a witness at trial, a court document on Friday showed.

Bannon was charged last year with two counts of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena issued by a House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters. Bannon has refused to provide testimony or documents, citing Trump's claim - rejected by other courts - that the material is protected under a legal doctrine called executive privilege.

Bannon, who has pleaded not guilty, has so far failed to get his July 18 trial dismissed or delayed. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols has scheduled a hearing in the case on Monday.

The judge in April blocked Bannon's attempt to tell jurors that he relied on advice from lawyers when he defied the congressional subpoena, an argument known as the "advice of counsel" defense. read more

His lawyer Robert Costello, in the court filing on Friday, said he served as "Bannon’s sole basis of information about the facts and the law concerning this matter" and that while he could serve as his attorney before the trial it appeared less clear that he could represent Bannon once proceedings began.

"Since it appears there will be a trial, and since it appears that at this point in time I might be called as a witness, I must reluctantly ask the Court to grant my request" asking to withdraw as trial counsel, Robert Costello wrote in a filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Bannon, a prominent figure in right-wing media circles, was an architect of Trump's 2016 presidential victory and served as White House chief strategist in 2017.

He was also charged in 2020 with conspiring to defraud donors as part of a private fundraising campaign promising to build Trump's wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. His case was dropped after Trump pardoned him in his final hours in office in January 2021. read more

Reporting by Susan Heavey Editing by Mark Heinrich

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