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Steve Bannon trial closing arguments set for Friday

After vowing to go ‘medieval,’ the former Trump adviser called no defense witnesses

Former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon speaks to the media as he departs the federal court in Washington on July 21. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

A jury is scheduled to hear closing arguments Friday in the trial of former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, who faces two counts of contempt of Congress for allegedly refusing to comply with a subpoena about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

That means the 12-member jury could begin deliberating about Bannon’s fate Friday, after only about a day and a half of testimony. The government called just two witnesses in the high-profile trial. Bannon, who in the run-up to the trial had vowed to go “medieval” on his enemies, called none. Bannon’s legal team argued they should have been allowed to call the chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), but U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Nichols didn’t allow it.

Nichols is weighing a defense motion challenging whether prosecutors have met their burden of proof, as well as defense arguments that Thompson’s testimony is essential to their case.

Before sending the jury home Thursday, the judge said a woman on the panel had to withdraw from service because of a medical issue, though he sought to reassure the jurors that it wasn’t covid or anything else contagious. That juror will be replaced with one of two alternates. Without mentioning the prime-time congressional hearing scheduled Thursday night about Jan. 6, the judge also reminded jurors to steer clear of news reports about the Capitol attack, as he has throughout the trial.

Do you remember who said what during the Jan. 6 hearings so far? Take our quiz.

Bannon did not testify during the trial. Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse Thursday afternoon, he said the real issue in the case was not the extent of his cooperation with the Jan. 6 committee, but whether the committee was willing to negotiate with him.

In the past, Bannon said, he has given “I think, 50 hours of testimony, every time the exact same way,” before investigations by a special counsel and by the House and Senate Intelligence Committee, with a lawyer present invoking executive privilege at times over communications involving then-President Donald Trump.

“We’ve worked it out and every time, and every single time, more than anybody else in the Trump administration … Stephen K. Bannon testified,” Bannon said.

Unlike the House Jan. 6 probe, however, those investigations came while Trump was president and spanned conversations that Bannon had while he was in the White House before leaving in 2017.

In issuing a subpoena to Bannon, the Jan. 6 committee said it wanted to question him about activities at the Willard hotel the night before the Capitol riot, when Trump supporters sought to persuade lawmakers to overturn the 2020 election results.

The committee said Bannon spoke with Trump by telephone that morning and evening, the last time after Bannon predicted “hell is going to break loose” on Jan. 6.

The Jan. 6 insurrection

Congressional hearings: The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol held a series of high-profile hearings to share its findings with the U.S. public. What was likely to be the panel’s final public hearing has been postponed because of Hurricane Ian. Here’s a guide to the biggest hearing moments so far.

Will there be charges? The committee could make criminal referrals of former president Donald Trump over his role in the attack, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in an interview.

What we know about what Trump did on Jan. 6: New details emerged when Hutchinson testified before the committee and shared what she saw and heard on Jan. 6.

The riot: On Jan. 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. Five people died on that day or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.

Inside the siege: During the rampage, rioters came perilously close to penetrating the inner sanctums of the building while lawmakers were still there, including former vice president Mike Pence. The Washington Post examined text messages, photos and videos to create a video timeline of what happened on Jan. 6.