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Judge limits Steve Bannon from releasing certain case material to the public

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols has issued a protective order in Steve Bannon's criminal contempt of Congress case, effectively barring him or his lawyers from releasing to the public case material given to them by prosecutors.

However, any evidence related to the case that is already in the public sphere or obtained by Bannon outside of the evidentiary discovery process is not subject the judge's ruling.  

"All materials provided by the United States in preparation for, or in connection with, any stage of this case ("the Materials") are subject to this protective order," Nichols ordered Friday. "The defendant and defense counsel shall not disclose the Materials or their contents directly or indirectly to any person or entity other than persons employed to assist in the defense, persons who are interviewed as potential witnesses, counsel for potential witnesses, and other person to whom the Court may authorize disclosure."

Bannon, who was a top adviser to former President Donald Trump, faces two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for his failure to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Bannon and his team had asked the judge not to issue the order, citing what they argue is the public's need to understand the case.

But prosecutors told the judge they feared Bannon would use any evidence received to try the case in the press or public if a protective order was not issued.

In a statement to CBS News, one of Bannon's attorneys, David Schoen, responded in part, "I am hopeful that the thought and effort the Judge put into developing this Order will allow all appropriate interests to be satisfied. I am confident that the Judge hopes to accomplish that with it." 

CBS News was part of a media coalition that challenged the government's request, which Nichols mostly granted, based on the breadth of the proposed protective order.

Friday's ruling, however, does allow for certain redacted sensitive material, such as grand jury testimony to be released to the public, should it be entered into open court at trial.

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