Evan Corcoran, who is representing Trump goon Steve Bannon during his trial on contempt of Congress allegations, sounds desperate.
During the closing argument for Bannon delivered by Corcoran on Friday, the attorney was hit with at least four objections that the judge sustained, per reporter Kyle Cheney. Contested arguments from Corcoran included the suggestion the signature on an earlier subpoena for Bannon from the House committee investigating the Capitol riot might not be legitimate and the characterization of the case against Bannon as political in nature. The disputed signature was from Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairperson of the riot committee, and after Corcoran brought it up, Nichols called a sidebar following an objection from prosecutors. Corcoran didn’t revisit the signature issue after the sidebar.
Corcoran’s other closing arguments included a dig on the integrity of riot committee staffer Kristin Amerling, who testified as a witness in the case, and a complaint that the riot panel didn’t pursue a civil route for dealing with Bannon in the face of his non-compliance. It’s non-compliance with the committee that led to his contempt of Congress prosecution. Cheney specified that sustained objections on Friday related to matters including the argument Bannon’s prosecution was political. The journalist also characterized sustained objections as rare in closing arguments. “It was a truly remarkable closing for Bannon’s team,” the reporter said. “At least four sustained objections (even lodging a single objection is exceedingly rare during closing arguments). Prosecutors clearly frustrated, Bannon just patted his attorney on the back.” The jury was expected to reach a decision in Bannon’s case relatively quickly. Potential jail-time accompanied any guilty verdict.
Throughout the course of Bannon’s trial, his side repeatedly faced set-backs amid their antagonistic frenzy. Bannon tried to get his trial substantially pushed back to later this year, but that failed, and Nichols imposed initial limits on key defenses Bannon’s team could make, including apparently cutting off the executive privilege argument. Although Bannon wasn’t on staff for Trump in the time period under investigation by the riot committee, potentially undercutting such claims, executive privilege claims were raised in his purported defense — outside the courtroom — anyway.
“He thinks his authority as one man is greater than our government’s, the one that we have all consented to,” assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn said in court on Friday after Corcoran concluded those remarks. “That’s not the way this works. He doesn’t get to tell the committee that it’s beneath his compliance and they need to appeal to another power or person.” Although executive privilege was at least initially blocked from being argued by Bannon’s defense, it still came up, at least tangentially. “His belief that he had a good excuse not to comply does not matter,” prosecutor Molly Gaston said at an earlier point on Friday. Prosecutors appeared focused in significant part on showing that Bannon intentionally refused to comply with riot committee demands. Gaston pointed to social media remarks from Bannon in which he essentially touted his antagonism towards the panel, and Vaughn made sure to characterize Bannon’s non-compliance as a “choice.”
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