Former US President Donald Trump’s White House chief strategist Steve Bannon arrives following his trial on contempt of Congress charges for his refusal to cooperate with the US House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, at US District Court in Washington, US, July 22, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
A federal court jury in Washington began deliberations Friday morning in the trial of Steve Bannon, the former top Trump White House aide who is charged with criminal contempt of Congress.
Bannon is accused of willfully failing to comply with subpoenas issued by the House select committee that is investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol by a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
He faces a minimum criminal sentence of 30 days in jail if convicted of two counts of contempt.
Prosecutor Molly Gaston told jurors in her closing arguments that Bannon “chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law.”
“When it really comes down to it, he did not want to recognize Congress’ authority or play by the government’s rules,” Gaston said. “Our government only works if people show up. It only works if people play by the rules. And it only works if people are held accountable when they do not.”
Bannon’s lawyers did not present a defense during the trial, which began Monday with jury selection.
His attorneys were hamstrung by pretrial rulings by the judge in the case, who severely limited the evidence they could present at trial.
During his own closing arguments Friday, Bannon’s lawyer Evan Corcoran tried to suggest that Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who is chair of the Jan. 6 committee, did not sign a subpoena for Bannon, NBC reported. Corcoran dropped that line of argument after the prosecution objected.
Corcoran also asked jurors to set aside memories of Jan. 6 in their deliberations.
“None of us will soon forget January 6, 2021,” Corcoran said. “It’s part of our collective memory. But there’s no evidence in this case that Steve Bannon was involved at all. For purposes of this case we have to put out of our thoughts January 6.”
Jurors began their deliberations at just before 11:40 am ET, after the closing arguments concluded.