Bannon will not present a defense case at trial
Stephen Bannon’s lawyers will not call any witnesses or introduce any new evidence in his criminal contempt trial after prosecutors spent less than two days laying out their case against the former White House strategist.
David Schoen, one of the attorneys representing Bannon, told a federal judge Thursday morning they will not mount a defense in the trial over whether Bannon willfully defied a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
The move means the jury in the case, which was impaneled on Tuesday, will not hear testimony from Bannon himself. The defense team had previously floated possibly having him take the stand.
Both sides will make closing arguments to the jury on Friday before it begins deliberating on a verdict.
Prosecutors rested their case Wednesday afternoon after calling just two witnesses.
Despite the defense offering no witnesses to testify on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols sent the jury home early Thursday afternoon in order to consider pending motions in the case, including a long-shot from Bannon to acquit him from the bench.
While Bannon’s lawyers don’t intend to call any of their own witnesses, they have been aggressive in cross-examining the prosecution’s.
Evan Corcoran, another member of the defense team, tried to paint the 2021 subpoena’s deadlines as flexible, introduced Bannon’s belated offer earlier this month to testify before the committee and attempted to paint the decision to hold Bannon in contempt and to prosecute him as politically motivated.
Nichols has prohibited the defense team from arguing that Bannon was shielded from complying with the subpoena because of executive privilege or from calling the jury’s attention to the potential political motivations of the Jan. 6 committee.
He issued a warning Wednesday that politics would not overcome the facts in the case.
“I do not intend for this to become a political case, a political circus, a forum for partisan politics,” Nichols, a Trump appointee, said Wednesday morning.
—Updated at 2:58 p.m.