[News] Prosecutors Urge Jurors To Convict Trump Ex-adviser Bannon


The prosecution asked jurors on Friday to convict Steve Bannon on charges of contempt of Congress for rebuffing a subpoena by the committee investigating last year's attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying Donald Trump's former presidential adviser must be held accountable for his unlawful defiance.

The prosecution began delivering its closing arguments to the 12-member jury in the trial, with the defense going next. Jurors were due to start their deliberations after that. The defense rested its case on Thursday without calling any witnesses after the prosecution rested on Wednesday, having called just two witnesses over two days.

Bannon, 68, has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts after rebuffing the House of Representative select committee's subpoena requesting testimony and documents as part of its inquiry into the Jan. 6, 2021, rampage by Trump supporters trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

Prosecutor Molly Gaston told jurors the attack represented a "dark day" for America.

"This is a simple case about a man - that man, Steve Bannon - who didn't show up," Gaston told jurors. "Why didn't he show up? He did not want to provide the Jan 6 committee with documents. He did not want to answer its questions. And when it really comes down to it, he did not want to recognize Congress's authority or play by the government's rules."

"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," Gaston told jurors.

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U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols placed limits on the kinds of arguments the defense could make during the trial.

Bannon was barred from arguing that he believed his communications with Trump were subject to a legal doctrine called executive privilege that can keep certain presidential communications confidential. The judge also prohibited Bannon from arguing that he relied on legal advice from an attorney in refusing to comply.

Bannon's primary defense in the trial was that he believed the subpoena's deadline dates were flexible and subject to negotiation between his attorney and the committee.

"This document is not hard to understand," Gaston told jurors of the subpoena. "It tells him what he is required to do, and when he is required to do it."

The main prosecution witness was Kristin Amerling, a senior committee staff member. She testified on Wednesday that Bannon disregarded the subpoena's two deadlines, sought no extensions and offered an invalid rationale for his defiance - a claim by Trump involving a legal doctrine called executive privilege that can keep certain presidential communications confidential.

Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol and attacked police in a failed effort to block formal congressional certification of his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, which Trump falsely claims was the result of widespread voting fraud. Bannon was a key adviser to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, then served in 2017 as his chief White House strategist.

The defense has made motions to the judge asking him to acquit Bannon, arguing the prosecution failed to prove its case, or dismiss the charges because his lawyers were blocked from calling as witnesses lawmakers who are members of the committee. Such motions seeking acquittals and dismissals at the end of a trial are common and rarely granted. Nichols said he intends to rule on both motions after the jury reaches a verdict.

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