A federal judge ordered the jury in the trial of former White House official Steve Bannon to begin deliberating Friday morning.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols discharged the jury after hearing closing arguments from both the prosecution and defense.
The Department of Justice charged Bannon with two counts of contempt of Congress after he ignored a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 committee. Bannon pleaded not guilty.
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The Justice Department began closing arguments Friday morning with prosecutor Molly Gaston telling jurors, “This is a man who didn’t show up.”
“He didn’t want to recognize Congress’ authority or play by the government’s rules,” Gaston said. “Our government only works if people show up and play by the rules and are held accountable when they do not.”
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“When he chose to defy a congressional subpoena, that was a crime,” Gaston continued. “The defendant chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law.”
Bannon is facing 30 days to a year in prison for each of the two misdemeanor charges.
The defense, however, told jurors that “the entire foundation of the government’s case rests” on the testimony of January 6th Committee staffer Kristen Amerling.
“You need to consider whether a witness has a friendship or hostility towards anybody connected with the case, that some something you need to consider,” Bannon lawyer Evan Corcoran said.
Corcoran told the jury that Amerling has an interest in the outcome of the case. “She’s been doing committee work for Democrats for 20 years. She has a relationship with one of the prosecutors on the case, Mrs. Gaston. It goes back 15 years. She’s contributed her own money to Democratic causes.”
Corcoran also told reminded the jury about testimony that Amerling and Gaston had a relationship outside of work, as members of the same book club. Corcoran also told the jury politics are at play in this case.
“Prosecution has to be based on unbiased neutral evidence, politics can play no role, and Steve Bannon is innocent,” he said.