In Bannon Trial, It's Already Time for Closing Arguments

Lawyers call for acquittal, arguing prosecution didn't prove contempt charge
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 21, 2022 4:04 PM CDT
In Bannon Trial, It's Already Time for Closing Arguments
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon arrives Thursday at federal court in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Lawyers for Trump ally Steve Bannon did not call any witnesses and declined to have him testify in his contempt of Congress trial on Thursday. Instead, they argued the judge should just acquit him, saying prosecutors didn't prove their case. The decision to forego calling any witnesses in Bannon's defense cleared the way for closing arguments to begin Friday, the AP reports. The judge didn’t immediately rule on the motion for an acquittal, and the case is likely to go to the jury by midday Friday. One of Bannon's lawyers, David Schoen, contended they should able to call Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the House Jan. 6 committee, which had subpoenaed Bannon, to question him under oath instead of the congressional lawyer who testified during the trial. The judge previously ruled against that request.

In court, Bannon nodded and smiled as another of his lawyers, Evan Corcoran, argued that the timing of when Bannon could comply with the subpoena was flexible and said testimony from the House panel’s chief lawyer, Kristin Amerling, had made clear "that the dates were in flux." In making the argument, Corcoran said that "no reasonable juror could conclude that Mr. Bannon refused to comply." Bannon's team also told the judge that Bannon saw no point in testifying since the previous rulings had gutted his planned avenues of defense. Schoen said Bannon "understands that he would be barred from telling the true facts." Corcoran then rested the defense case.

At other times in the courtroom on Thursday, Bannon fiddled with his telephone and rocked in his chair. Bannon, who worked in no official capacity for Trump at the time of the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, is charged with defying a congressional subpoena from the House committee investigating the aftermath of the 2020 election and the events leading up to the deadly riot. The Justice Department rested its case Wednesday after calling just two witnesses: Amerling and FBI special agent Stephen Hart. Amerling explained the extent to which the committee tried to engage Bannon and the timeline leading up to the missed deadline. During cross-examination, Corcoran asked Amerling whether it was common for witnesses to appear before a congressional committee weeks after the deadline on a subpoena. Amerling answered "yes," but added only "when witnesses are cooperating with the committee." Amerling said Bannon was uncooperative from the start, so there was no such leeway.

(Read more Jan. 6 hearings stories.)

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