Court Battles

Bannon ‘doesn’t like the optic’ of taking the Fifth Amendment in testimony: lawyer

Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who was sentenced to four months in prison for contempt of Congress on Friday, refused to testify before the House Jan. 6 Committee because he “doesn’t like the optic” of taking the Fifth Amendment, according to his lawyer.

Bannon attorney David Schoen appeared on CNN Friday hours after his client was sentenced and explained why the media executive chose not to testify before the committee.

“Why didn’t he just go before the committee and do what so many other potentially prosecutable suspects in the investigation have done … and just assert the Fifth Amendment for any answers that might incriminate him?” CNN host Jake Tapper asked Schoen.

Schoen responded: “Because he’s Steve Bannon.”

“He doesn’t like the optic of taking the Fifth Amendment,” the attorney added of Bannon, the ex-chairman of Breitbart News and ardent supporter of former President Trump.

Bannon was indicted on charges of contempt of Congress in November of last year after failing to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee. The committee issued the subpoena in September 2021, but he failed to provide the required documents or testimony that the committee requested.

In addition to his prison sentence, Bannon will pay a fine of $6,500.

Schoen advised Bannon not to testify in court during the trial.

The criminal defense lawyer, who represented Trump during the former president’s second impeachment trial, told Tapper that Bannon was unable to “tell the story of what happened” in court and therefore did not testify before the jury.

“People may or may not have noticed it, I actually declined to participate in the trial in terms of examining witnesses and making arguments because I had a bit of a disagreement over strategy and whether it was appropriate, and I didn’t want to legitimize that process,” Schoen said.

He continued: “Once the judge made a ruling that all of the defenses in the case would be barred I didn’t want to legitimize the process by going through all the motions and making it sort of good enough by asking the questions and so on, so that anyone reviewing could say well you got a fair trial in this case.”

Schoen said that, while the “very thoughtful and careful judge” gave “reasoned rulings,” “overall those rulings were unfair.”

“I think the jury deserved to hear all of the facts of the case and then make a decision one way or the other,” he added.

Bannon will appeal his guilty verdict in Friday’s ruling, likely delaying his prison sentence.

Tags CNN David Schoen Donald Trump Jake Tapper Jan. 6 Capitol riot Stephen Bannon Steve Bannon

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