Steve Bannon's lawyers won't present any evidence to jury in criminal contempt trial
Steve Bannon speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The trial of former Trump political strategist Steve Bannon appears to be heading toward a speedy conclusion.

Lawyers representing Bannon have now said that they will not present evidence or call witnesses to make their case that their client is innocent of being in criminal contempt of Congress, according to CBS News reporter Scott MacFarlane.

Instead, the trial will proceed directly to closing arguments that are due to start at 1 p.m. ET after the court returns from recess.

MacFarlane notes that it's not certain when the jury will begin deliberations in the trial, although he says it's "possible" that they begin by the end of Thursday.

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Bannon, who led Trump's successful 2016 presidential election campaign, was among dozens of people called to testify about the storming of Congress by Trump supporters.

Bannon was indicted on two charges of contempt of Congress after refusing to testify to a House of Representatives committee probing the violence.

His lawyers sought to delay the start of the trial so that it would not take place at the same time as the committee's public hearings, but the judge refused last week.

Prosecutors in the case called only two witnesses and wrapped up their arguments in the span of just one day, as they told jurors that this was an open-and-shut case of a man brazenly defying a lawfully issued congressional subpoena.

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According to the House committee probing the riot, Bannon spoke to Trump the previous day.

Investigators believe Bannon and other Trump advisors could have information on links between the White House and the rioters.

After refusing to testify for months, Bannon finally agreed to cooperate with the investigation, a move prosecutors said was a "last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability" by stalling his trial for contempt.

Judge Carl Nichols ruled it should go ahead anyway, saying "I see no reason for extending this case any longer."

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If convicted of contempt, Bannon, 68, faces a minimum sentence of 30 days and a maximum of one year in prison on each count.

He was Trump's strategy chief at the White House before being sacked in 2017.

Bannon was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering after allegedly defrauding thousands of donors to a campaign to fund Trump's anti-migrant wall along the southern border.

In Trump's final hours in office, he pardoned Bannon.

More than 850 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on Congress. The assault left at least five people dead and 140 police officers injured.

Trump was impeached for a historic second time by the House after the riot -- he was charged with inciting an insurrection -- but was acquitted by the Senate.


With additional reporting by AFP

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