(FiveNation.com)- In court documents filed last week, the attorneys representing Steve Bannon in his contempt case accused the prosecution of obtaining the personal and professional emails and phone records of Bannon’s lawyer Robert Costello along with several other individuals with the same name.
Bannon was criminally charged with contempt of Congress after he refused to testify or turn over documents to the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot at the Capitol. He is being represented in the case by M. Evan Corcoran, a former federal prosecutor, and David I. Schoen, the attorney who represented former President Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial.
In their court filing, Corcoran and Schoen allege that three DOJ prosecutors and four FBI agents sought Costello’s email records from four different accounts “simply by making up emails addresses that had some form of the name Robert Costello in them.” In so doing, they also obtained the emails from people named Robert Costello who weren’t Bannon’s lawyer.
In their filing, Bannon’s attorneys accused the Department of Justice of violating the Sixth Amendment rights of Costello’s other clients, violating Costello’s right to privacy, as well as the privacy rights of other people named Robert Costello.
According to The Daily Beast, which previously reported that the FBI was targeting Costello, the discovery that the alleged dragnet ensnared other people with the same name reveals “sloppy police work” from investigators who are already facing accusations that Bannon’s prosecution is politically motivated.
Bannon’s legal team has been trying to use the proceedings as a way to uncover salacious documents from both the Justice Department and the Biden White House. Meanwhile, Bannon has used his case as a way to grandstand against the January 6 select committee.
The news that the FBI has engaged in this level of surveillance could play to Bannon’s advantage, especially since his legal team is poised to seize on any political fallout from missteps by the Department of Justice.
In their report on the filing, The Daily Beast spoke with one of the Robert Costellos who had been surveilled by the FBI. That Robert Costello, an emergency manager at FEMA, dismissed the report, saying he has a government-issued phone and has no right to privacy. But when The Daily Beast told him his and his wife’s emails were also obtained, “his tone turned stone cold” and he ended the conversation.