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Jury Begins Deliberations on Contempt Charges in Bannon Trial

WASHINGTON — Lawyers discussed closing arguments Friday in the trial of Stephen K. Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald J. Trump, who faces two charges of contempt for Congress after he ignored a subpoena to provide information to the House committee investigating the January case. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

A jury will now decide whether Bannon is guilty of felonies punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to one year. Bannon, who left the White House in 2017, is the first member of Trump’s inner circle to face trial in a case stemming from the Capitol bombing.

The Jan. 6 commission said Mr. Bannon is crucial to their investigation because of his close proximity to Mr. Trump and a statement he made on Jan. 5, 2021, when he said “all hell” would break loose, which appears to portend it. violence that erupted on the day Congress was to confirm the results of the 2020 election.

As a closing argument, the prosecution painted a sober picture of the riots in the Capitol to emphasize the importance of the work of the commission. Bannon not only ignored the subpoena, lawyers said, but he also usurped government authority because he believed Congress was “under him.”

“We’re here because the defendant had contempt for Congress,” said Molly Gaston, a prosecutor for the prosecution. “This is a situation where the name of the crime tells you everything you need to know.”

Mr Bannon was given clear instructions from the committee on how to comply with the subpoena and warned of the consequences of failing to do so, Ms Gaston said. Still, he failed to produce documents, testify or negotiate with the commission, she said, offering invalid apologies for his inability to cooperate.

The government, prosecutors said, “only works if people follow the rules. And it only works if people are held accountable when they don’t.”

“The defendant chose loyalty to Donald Trump over compliance with the law,” Ms Gaston added. “The defendant chose to resist.”

The defense responded by portraying the events of January 6 as irrelevant to the case and instead poking technical holes in the prosecution’s argument, arguing that deadlines to comply with the subpoena had not been set. A lawyer for Mr. Bannon, M. Evan Corcoran, claimed that one of the government witnesses, Kristin Amerling, Jan. committee, was biased, as she and Mrs. Gaston had been in the same book club.

“You have to give Steve Bannon the benefit of the doubt,” Mr Corcoran said.

Mr Corcoran reiterated that the matter had been tainted by partisanship and said Ms Amerling was politically motivated because she had worked for Democrats in Congress for years. He also charged the charges as being overrun by those with political power, but the judge stopped him as he tried to make a broader point that the legislature and the presidency are controlled by Democrats.

The closing arguments came hours after the Jan. 6 commission held a public hearing with audio from Bannon, days before the 2020 election, detailing how Trump would spread the false claim of a stolen match.

“He is going to declare victory,” Mr Bannon said in a recording made public last week by… Mother Jones. “But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner. He’s just going to say he’s a winner.”

On Thursday, the defense asked the judge to acquit Mr Bannon and chose not to bring witnesses or evidence to the jurors, relying instead on his cross-examination of the prosecution’s two witnesses. mr. Bannon also chose not to testify, a departure from the defense’s suggestion last week that he would.

Of the former White House officials the commission wanted to charge with contempt, the Justice Department filed charges against Bannon and another former Trump adviser, Peter Navarro, who had opposed their subpoenas from the start and never met. the committee had negotiated.

It is not clear when the jury will reach a verdict. Judges were told to remain unbiased, but during the jury selection on Monday, a member of the jury group speculated aloud about the outcome of the case.

“Power seems pretty easy,” she said.

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