In the trial of well-known US right-wing populist Steve Bannon for obstructing Congress, prosecutors have accused the defendant of considering himself above the law. “The defendant has determined that he is above the law,” prosecutor Amanda Vaughn said Tuesday in her opening statement in a federal court in Washington on former President Donald Trump’s chief strategist. “And that’s why we’re here today.”

Bannon’s attorney, Evan Corcoran, said his client did not knowingly ignore a January 6, 2021 subpoena from the parliamentary inquiry into the Capitol storming. Rather, the date for a survey was “the subject of ongoing discussions and negotiations” and “flexible”. The House of Representatives’ decision to request the Justice Department to indict Bannon was politically motivated.

Last year, Bannon ignored a subpoena from the House U-Committee to storm the Capitol and also refused to hand over documents. He was subsequently indicted on two counts of obstruction of Congress. If convicted, he faces a prison sentence of between 30 days and one year per charge. A fine is also possible.

The co-founder of the right-wing website Breitbart News recently did a U-turn: his lawyer said Bannon now wanted to testify before the panel. The public prosecutor’s office described the move as a “last-ditch effort to evade responsibility.”

The trial against the 68-year-old then began on Monday with jury selection. The actual main proceedings began on Tuesday. Observers expect the process to take place quickly.

The investigative committee considers Bannon to be a key witness in the investigation into the storming of the seat of the US Parliament two months after Trump’s defeat in the November 2020 presidential election. According to the investigative committee, the right-wing populist had spoken to Trump the day before the storming. On his own podcast, Bannon also predicted that “hell will break out.”

Radical Trump supporters had stormed Congress when the victory of Trump’s challenger Joe Biden in the November 2020 presidential election was to be officially confirmed. The storming of the Capitol with five dead caused horror worldwide and is considered a black day in the history of US democracy. The Capitol Storming Committee of Inquiry is currently holding a series of public hearings to uncover what happened at the time.

Bannon was a central figure in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. After the Republican victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, Bannon became the new president’s chief strategist in the White House. Trump fired him in August 2017.