Jury selection wraps up in criminal trial of Trump aide Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The contempt trial of former White House strategist Steve Bannon is moving ahead after twelve jurors and two alternates were selected Tuesday afternoon.

Bannon and his legal team had tried to purge any potentially biased jurors from his upcoming trial, VICE News reported. Several people who admitted to having a low opinion of Bannon were booted from the jury on Monday.

Legal experts speaking to VICE News said that Bannon was likely to be convicted and face some prison time since the case against him is strong.

One juror reportedly said he remembered hearing Bannon declare last week that he would “go medieval” on his enemies. “I thought that was just a preposterous statement,” the juror said, adding that it would be a “challenge” to be impartial toward Bannon. “I do believe he’s guilty."

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After leaving the courthouse, Bannon was asked if he thinks the jury will be fair.

“I think so, yeah,” Bannon said, according to VICE News.

Bannon, who led Trump's successful 2016 presidential election campaign, was among dozens of people called to testify about the storming of Congress by Trump supporters.

Bannon was indicted on two charges of contempt of Congress after refusing to testify to a House of Representatives committee probing the violence.

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His lawyers sought to delay the start of the trial so that it would not take place at the same time as the committee's public hearings, but the judge refused last week.

Thousands of Trump supporters, many associated with ultra-nationalist and white supremacist groups, stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in an effort to block the certification of Democrat Joe Biden's election victory.

They had been egged on by Trump in a fiery speech during which he repeated his false claims of election fraud.

According to the House committee probing the riot, Bannon spoke to Trump the previous day.

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Investigators believe Bannon and other Trump advisors could have information on links between the White House and the rioters.

After refusing to testify for months, Bannon finally agreed to cooperate with the investigation, a move prosecutors said was a "last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability" by stalling his trial for contempt.

Judge Carl Nichols ruled it should go ahead anyway, saying "I see no reason for extending this case any longer."

If convicted of contempt, Bannon, 68, faces a minimum sentence of 30 days and a maximum of one year in prison on each count.

He was Trump's strategy chief at the White House before being sacked in 2017.

Bannon was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering after allegedly defrauding thousands of donors to a campaign to fund Trump's anti-migrant wall along the southern border.

In Trump's final hours in office, he pardoned Bannon.

More than 850 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on Congress. The assault left at least five people dead and 140 police officers injured.

Trump was impeached for a historic second time by the House after the riot -- he was charged with inciting an insurrection -- but was acquitted by the Senate.

With additional reporting by AFP

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