Steve Bannon Lawyers Claim: During a routine hearing on Thursday, a lawyer for Steve Bannon said that he and Mr. Bannon had “a complete breakdown in communication,” which was quickly replaced by a heated exchange between the lawyer and a New York judge.
David Schoen, Mr. Bannon’s attorney, announced his intention to leave the case at the beginning of the session in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Mr. Schoen claimed that Mr. Bannon, a close friend of former President Donald J. Trump, was entitled to the legal representation of his choice without any restrictions.
Regarding the assertion that Mr. Bannon had complete freedom in selecting his attorney, the judge, Juan M. Merchan, responded, “With all due respect, I believe you’re 100 percent wrong.” If Mr. Bannon’s hunt for legal representation were fully supported, it might cause the case to be postponed indefinitely.
The judge’s remark provided the first indication that the session would be characterized by the commotion that frequently surrounds Mr. Bannon, a right-wing pundit, politician, and podcaster who recently proposed that Mr. Trump be appointed as speaker of the House.
Mr. Schoen and the judge got into an argument that was loud enough to be heard throughout the downtown courtroom’s high ceilings. The Manhattan district attorney’s office accused Mr. Bannon of scamming donors to a group that aimed to support the building of a wall along the southern border in September. In 2020, Mr. Bannon faced federal charges for engaging in similar behavior, but Mr. Trump pardoned him before he left office. In the fall, there will be a trial.
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The hearing was postponed because Mr. Bannon was supposed to attend last month, in part because his attorneys said they had come to a deadlock with their client.
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In a roundabout way on Thursday, Mr. Schoen began to describe those circumstances: “If a defendant and his attorneys have a complete breakdown of communication…” Beginning, Mr. Schoen. Justice Merchan cut him off before he could finish by requesting that he speak clearly.
Mr. Schoen gave in. He declared, “There has been a clear breakdown in communication.” “Mr. Bannon and his attorneys don’t speak to one another directly about this lawsuit. We never speak to each other directly; only through an attorney.
They were unable to agree on a defense plan, among other things, according to Mr. Schoen. Justice Merchan’s display of annoyance was uncommon because he generally appeared unfazed throughout the trial of Mr. Trump’s business, which he also oversaw.
Mr. Schoen claimed to have “really hit it off with the judge today” after the hearing. He claimed that despite the fact that he was no longer in contact with Mr. Bannon about the wall case, he remained friendly with him and actually represented him in another case. It was unclear why talking about this particular case had become impossible.
For his part, Mr. Bannon kept his remarks to the Brazilian election, which he alleged to have been “stolen” without providing any proof.
He remained silent throughout the hearing while the prosecutor, Daniel Passenger, stated that if Mr. Bannon had communicated with his attorney, the case would not have been “effectively delayed” by Mr. Schoen and John W. Mitchell‘s resignation.
Mr. Passeser said that he would not object as long as the matter moved on according to plan. That seemed to anger, Mr. Schoen. Mr. Schoen began to detail the enormous amount of evidence and other documentation information in the case, which he claimed was equivalent to a multiple of the Library of Congress’s print collection, after claiming that Mr. Passeser had left out something “quite substantial.”
The judge did not change. Justice Merchan remarked, “You’ve said that about twenty times.”
The court summoned the attorneys to come to the bench where they engaged in an inaudible discussion after further heated exchanges. The judge then spoke to Mr. Schoen once more.
I’m sorry you feel like you were forced to come here when you didn’t want to, he replied. You and your client will receive the same treatment in this courtroom as every other defendant.
Mr. Bannon was given until February 28 by the judge to select a new attorney. Saying that the case wouldn’t be delayed by looking for a new attorney, in his words, was “disingenuous.” When Mr. Bannon spoke during the hearing for the first time, he responded in the affirmative when he was asked if he understood. “You never need to come back,” Justice Merchan informed Mr. Schoen once a new attorney had been hired.
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