Steve Bannon’s lawyers call foul on House Jan. 6 committee’s hearing before closing arguments

The defense team in Stephen K. Bannon’s contempt of Congress trial on Friday said his chance for a fair trial could have been damaged by the House Jan. 6 Committee’s prime-time TV hearing.

In a motion filed before closing arguments, the defense said the committee featured a “particularly inflammatory” audio segment of Mr. Bannon in its hearing on Thursday and asked U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols to address any potential sway it may have over the jury.

“The nature and substance of the segment present a significant cause for concern regarding possible prejudice to Mr. Bannon’s constitutional fair trial rights and right to a jury trial if a juror viewed the segment or was made aware of it in some manner,” the motion reads.

“The Defendant respectfully requests, subject to the Court’s experienced view on how best to address the matter, that there should be some inquiry while assuring the jurors of the importance of candor and that they will not suffer negative consequences if they acknowledge exposure to the broadcast or its subject,” it said.

The 68-year-old former adviser in the Trump White House is on trial for contempt of Congress and accused of defying the Jan. 6 committee’s demands for documents and deposition in its probe of the riot.

The committee has held a series of hearings spanning June and July to unpack findings from its nearly yearlong investigation into the riot at the Capitol. The committee‘s final hearing in the series was the prime-time event on Thursday.

During the hearing, the committee played audio of Mr. Bannon saying that Mr. Trump was going to “declare himself a winner” following the November 2020 election.

“When you wake up Wednesday morning, it’s going to be a firestorm,” Mr. Bannon said in the recording aired during the hearing.

Mr. Bannon’s defense team rested its case on Thursday without calling the defendant to the witness stand to testify.

The jury is scheduled to begin its deliberations later Friday after closing arguments.

Mr. Bannon’s legal team requested a delay in his trial last month in light of the “media blitz” surrounding the committee’s hearings. Mr. Bannon’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, said the fanfare infringes on his right to a fair trial unblemished by outside findings and presuppositions formed from the public hearings.

In the motion, which was denied, Mr. Corcoran argued that several of the findings produced by the committee in the hearings specifically referenced Mr. Bannon and matters material to his case without allowing him to respond.

The jurors were instructed not to consume news or information that could impact their judgment in Mr. Bannon’s case, before leaving the courtroom Thursday.

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