The Washington Post
Bannon’s lawyers call no defense witnesses; closing arguments set for Friday
A jury is scheduled to hear closing arguments Friday in the trial of former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, who faces two counts of contempt of Congress for allegedly refusing to comply with a subpoena about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
That means the 12-member jury could begin deliberating about Bannon’s fate Friday, after only about a day and a half of testimony. The government called just two witnesses in the high-profile trial. Bannon, who in the run-up to the trial had vowed to go “medieval” on his enemies, called none. Bannon’s legal team argued they should have been allowed to call the chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (DMiss.), but U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Nichols didn’t allow it.
Nichols is weighing a defense motion challenging whether prosecutors have met their burden of proof, as well as defense arguments that Thompson’s testimony is essential to their case.
Before sending the jury home Thursday, the judge said a woman on the panel had to withdraw from service because of a medical issue, though he sought to reassure the jurors that it wasn’t covid-19 or anything else contagious. That juror will be replaced with one of two alternates. Without mentioning the prime-time Jan. 6 committee hearing that was scheduled for Thursday night, the judge also reminded jurors to steer clear of news reports about the Capitol attack, as he has throughout the trial.
Bannon did not testify during the trial. Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse Thursday, he said the real issue in the case was not the extent of his cooperation with the Jan. 6 committee, but whether the committee was willing to negotiate with him.
In the past, Bannon said, he has given “I think, 50 hours of testimony, every time the exact same way,” before investigations by a special counsel and by the House and Senate Intelligence Committee, with a lawyer present invoking executive privilege at times over communications involving then-President Donald Trump.
“We’ve worked it out and every time, and every single time, more than anybody else in the Trump administration . . . Stephen K. Bannon testified,” Bannon said.
Unlike the House Jan. 6 probe, however, those investigations came while Trump was president and spanned conversations that Bannon had while he was in the White House before leaving in 2017.
In issuing a subpoena to Bannon, the Jan. 6 committee said it wanted to question him about activities at the Willard hotel the night before the Capitol riot, when Trump supporters sought to persuade lawmakers to overturn the 2020 election results.
The committee said Bannon spoke with Trump by telephone that morning and evening, the last time after Bannon predicted “hell is going to break loose” on Jan. 6.