(Bloomberg) -- Steve Bannon’s lawyer told a Washington jury that a scribbled signature on a congressional subpoena could be the key to his acquittal on charges that he illegally defied lawmakers probing the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
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The remarks were made in closing statements to jurors Friday before they began deliberations in the case.
Defense attorney Evan Corcoran said the signature by Representative Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the US House Jan. 6 committee, doesn’t look like the lawmaker’s identical signatures on letters he sent to the longtime Donald Trump adviser.
“That is the signature on the subpoena,” Corcoran said, gesturing to documents shown to jurors on a screen. “And you can ask yourself, one of those things is different from the other. That could be a doubt as to the government’s case -- a reasonable doubt as to whether Chairman Thompson signed the subpoena.”
Corcoran also argued that the dates in the subpoena were “placeholders, essentially,” suggesting that Bannon didn’t miss any deadlines that were set in stone. “There’s nothing magic to those dates.”
The technical arguments about the government’s evidence contrasted starkly with the closing argument of the prosecution, which focused on claims that Bannon openly said he’d refuse to comply with the subpoenas and flouted the rule of law.
“This is a case about a man, Steve Bannon, who didn’t show up,” prosecutor Molly Gaston said. “Why didn’t he show? He didn’t show up because he did not want to provide the Jan. 6 committee with the documents. He did not want to answer their questions. And when it really comes down to it, he did not want to recognize the government’s authority.”
During the trial, the government’s star witness, Kristin Amerling, chief counsel to the Jan. 6 committee, testified that Bannon ignored multiple requests and warnings to comply with the subpoena. The committee demanded that Bannon send over documents by Oct. 7 and appear for testimony on Oct. 14, but he never did, Amerling told the jury on Wednesday.
She also said that he didn’t follow procedures attached to the subpoena if he wanted to request more time.
The defense didn’t call witnesses or produce any evidence during the trial. Bannon faces two counts of criminal contempt which each carry as long as a year in prison and a fine of as much as $100,000, but he’s likely to get a lesser term determined by a judge who could sentence him to serve the counts concurrently.
The case “is important because our government only works if people show up,” Gaston told jurors Friday. “It only works if people play by the rules and it only works if people are held accountable when they do not.”
“When the defendant deliberately chose to defy a congressional subpoena,” she said, “that was a crime.”
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