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Judge: Steve Bannon must comply with subpoena in sexual discrimination suit against Trump campaign

A staffer with former President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign claims a campaign of sexual discrimination blocked her from promised career advancement.

WASHINGTON — A D.C. Superior Court judge this week ordered Steve Bannon to comply with a subpoena from a former staffer suing former President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign over allegations of sexual discrimination.

In an order Monday, Associate Judge Todd E. Edelman ordered Bannon to produce documents requested by the subpoena by Feb. 24 and to sit for a virtual deposition on or before March 31. Failure to comply with a subpoena in D.C. carries a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The subpoena stems from a lawsuit filed in New York by Jessica Denson, who served as a national phone bank administrator and Hispanic outreach director for Trump’s first presidential campaign. The lawsuit claims Denson’s continued rise through the ranks of the campaign – and a spot on the transition team allegedly promised to her by Bannon – was cut short by a campaign of sexual discrimination and bullying by a supervisor. Denson’s attempts to compel Bannon to comply with her subpoena were first reported by WUSA9 in July.

The lawsuit, filed in 2017, seeks millions of dollars in damages from the Trump campaign. Denson also brought a class-action suit in federal court seeking to invalidate the non-disparagement clauses required by all Trump campaign staffers. In 2021, a federal judge ruled her NDA was invalid and unenforceable.

Last April, a subpoena was served on Bannon outside his D.C. residence seeking documents in 27 categories, including Denson’s work assignments and the decision not to consider her for a position on the Trump’s transition team. A recording of Denson’s mother serving the subpoena on Bannon appears to show him throwing the paperwork into the street and walking away after receiving it.

“As made clear and obvious when he immediately threw the subpoena on the street, he had no intention of complying with the demand for his attendance at a virtual deposition,” attorneys Scott Rome and Christopher LaFon, who are representing Denson in her effort to depose Bannon, wrote in a renewed motion in December seeking for a judge to compel Bannon to comply. On Monday, Edelman granted that request.

Bannon, who served as CEO of Trump’s first presidential campaign and then as a senior adviser in the White House, was convicted in July of two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the January 6th Committee. A federal judge sentenced him in October to four months in prison but granted a stay of that sentence while Bannon pursues an appeal.

Bannon is also under indictment on charges of conspiracy and money laundering in connection with the “We Build the Wall” organization that solicited private donations to build sections of a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border. State and federal prosecutors, including Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, have described the organization as a “multi-million dollar scheme” to defraud donors.

Two of Bannon’s associates in that organization, Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato, pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and wire fraud. A third associate, Timothy Shea, was convicted in October of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Bannon was pardoned in the federal case by Trump but was indicted in September on state charges in New York.

No attorney has made an appearance on Bannon’s behalf in D.C. Superior Court with respect to Denson’s subpoena and attorneys who’ve represented Bannon in other matters did not respond to previous requests from WUSA9 for comment.

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