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New York: Steve Bannon, the right-wing extremist and former adviser to US President Donald Trump, has been banned from Twitter after calling for top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci and FBI director Christopher Wray to be beheaded.
The shocking claims, aired in a video on Thursday night, US time (Saturday AEDT), prompted the lawyer defending Bannon against fraud charges in federal court in Manhattan to drop him as a client, one person familiar with matter said.
"Mr Bannon is in the process of retaining new counsel," the lawyer, William Burck, said in a brief letter to the court, giving no explanation.
Bannon was banned from Twitter for inciting violence. Credit:Bloomberg
Bannon could not immediately be reached for comment.
The loss of his representation was just the latest setback for Bannon, 66, who has struggled for political relevance since losing his job at the White House eight months after Trump's inauguration.
Most recently, in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, Bannon teamed with Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, labouring to create a narrative that former vice-president Joe Biden's son Hunter was corrupt, in a bid to harm Biden's presidential campaign. The Biden campaign has vigorously denied the unsubstantiated allegations.
Since August, Bannon has been fighting the criminal charges lodged against him by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
Bannon was arrested on charges of defrauding donors to a campaign to privately fund a wall on the US border with Mexico, one of Trump's signature political promises.
The prosecutors have charged that Bannon and three co-defendants, while pledging publicly not to take any of the money raised for themselves, siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for travel, hotels, personal credit card debt and other expenses.
Bannon and the three co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Burck's letter asked that the next hearing in the case, which was scheduled for Monday, be postponed while Bannon found new counsel.
Bannon's comments were made during a livestream of his online show War Room: Pandemic.
The video showed Bannon calling for violence against Fauci and Wray. Both officials have become targets of pro-Trump pundits who accuse them of undermining the President.
Bannon, in his comments, invoked punishment from the medieval era.
"I'd actually like to go back to the old times of Tudor England," Bannon said. "I'd put the heads on pikes, right? I'd put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats: You either get with the program, or you're gone."
Twitter banned an account belonging to Bannon that posted video of his remarks.
"The @WarRoomPandemic account has been permanently suspended for violating the Twitter rules — specifically, our policy on the glorification of violence," a Twitter spokesperson said.
A video of Bannon's remarks also was removed from YouTube, said Alex Joseph, a YouTube spokesperson.
"We've removed this video for violating our policy against inciting violence," Joseph said. "We will continue to be vigilant as we enforce our policies in the post-election period."
It is not uncommon for defendants to switch lawyers, sometimes because of disagreements over legal strategy or because the legal bills are not being paid.
Burck did not detail his reasons for severing ties with Bannon in the two-paragraph letter he submitted Friday to the judge, Analisa Torres of US District Court.
The New York Times
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