WASHINGTON—Jurors on July 22 began deliberations in the contempt of Congress trial of former White House adviser Steve Bannon.
Deliberations started after closing arguments.
Prosecutors called just two witnesses—Kristen Amerling, a lawyer for the House of Representatives committee investigating the U.S. Capitol breach that took place on Jan. 6, 2021, and an FBI agent who analyzed Bannon’s social media posts and interviewed Amerling. The defense called no witnesses.
Bannon was charged with two counts of contempt of Congress after refusing in 2021 to provide materials or testimony to the committee.
He faces up to two years in jail if convicted of both counts.
Bannon has said he was following the assertion of executive privilege claimed by former President Donald Trump over the information he has. Prosecutors say he broke the law and should be convicted.
“This case is not complicated but it is important. This is a simple case about a man—that man, Steve Bannon—who didn’t show up.” Why didn’t he show up? He didn’t want to provide the January 6 committee with documents, didn’t want to recognize the government’s authority,” Molly Gaston, a prosecutor, told the jury.
“Why is this important? Government only works if people show up, play by the rules, and are held accountable when they do not.”
The defendant committed a crime by defying a congressional subpoena, Gaston added.
“The defendant chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law,” she said.
Panel members have said they believe Bannon, who left the Trump administration in 2017, has information about the events that unfolded on Jan. 6. They say he participated in a meeting in the Willard Hotel that included people involved in the breach and noted he said a day before the breach that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
All media outlets predicted the same thing, Evan Corcoran, a lawyer representing Bannon, told jurors.
Corcoran also said that there is no evidence that Bannon was involved with the breach and that the evidence shows Bannon did not show contempt of Congress, pointing to how Bannon offered to testify if the issue of executive privilege was resolved.
Corcoran brought up how Amerling could not say whether Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the panel, signed the subpoena and noted the longtime connection between Amerling and Gaston.
“If this relationship gives you pause, gives you doubt, you must give Steve Bannon the benefit of that doubt,” Corcoran said.
In a rebuttal, prosecutor Amanda Vaughn said the defense was asking jurors not to believe subpoena deadline dates that were “in black and white.
“Your excuse is no excuse,” she said. “You must comply.”