“This could happen to any American,” Schoen said.
Schoen revealed more information after both parties made opening arguments at the trial. Prosecutors claimed that Bannon believed the law stood “above the law”; defense attorneys argued that contrary to what they said, Bannon tried to follow the law by seeking legal counsel while waiting on the court to decide executive privilege disputes.
“When you get a subpoena and you hire a lawyer, you ought to be able to rely on that lawyer's advice,” Schoen stated. He also said when Bannon was subpoenaed by the January 6, Committee to testify and produce documents regarding the Capitol protest, he was told by his lawyer that executive privilege issues were to be resolved.
“There is nothing wrong Bannon did in this case,” Schoen continued, “he’s just not able to tell his story. He was told: You’re not able by law to comply. Bannon simply followed his attorney’s advice.”
Schoen stated that in court, the judge, Judge Carl J. Nichols, acknowledged that Bannon's defense was likely right in the case of willfulness and whether Bannon intended to disobey the committee.
Schoen and his associates have asserted the idea that Bannon and his attorneys had been in negotiations with the committee and that the timeframe of correspondence exchanged supports the defense's assertion.
The letters also indicate that Bannon had been working with an attorney to address concerns about privilege, he stated.
Judge Nichols, chosen by Trump, has ruled out all arguments against his legality in granting the summons and also the legality of the committee that many critics claim already violated the rules of the resolution that gave it its authority.
However, Judge Nichols permitted the prosecution to summon the committee's chief attorney, Kristin Amerling, as their first witness. They also asked her to provide specific testimony regarding her legal opinion on the legality and urgency of Bannon's summons.
“The judge has made his rulings and we have to respect his decision,” Schoen said, “but there are more important constitutional issues for appeal here than virtually any other case I've handled.”
He also said Judge Nichols has declared that he's bound by a case from 1961, Licavoli v. U.S. In that case, an indictment for contempt of Congress was upheld, even though the defendant had taken counsel from his attorney. But, Schoen said that the precedent is not relevant, and it is unthinkable to penalize a person for exercising their legal right to counsel under the Constitution.
“‘Willfulness,' for the last thirty years at least, has required some concept that what you're doing was wrong,” Schoen stated.
“[Bannon] believed what he was doing was right.”
The trial will resume on Wednesday and is scheduled to conclude this week.
Schoen was the attorney for President Trump at his impeachment trials the second time and is known for the destruction of Trump's impeachment case. House impeachment officers who used the Charlottesville “fine people hoax” in error, claimed Trump had praised neo-Nazis, and he had decried the group.