Steve Bannon has ghosted his lawyers for months — and they want out of his state criminal trial for alleged fraud in the “We Build The Wall” fundraising scam.
But a skeptical Manhattan Supreme court judge and prosecutors suggested the defense request may simply be a tactic to delay the Donald Trump loyalist’s trial.
At a hearing Thursday, lawyers for Bannon blamed “irreconcilable differences” for the months-long communications draught, and asked Judge Juan Merchan to let them withdraw from the case.
“There is a direct breakdown in communications, so Mr. Bannon and his lawyers don’t communicate about this case directly. We only communicate through a third-party attorney,” Bannon’s lawyer David Schoen told Merchan.
Schoen said Bannon doesn’t agree with the defense approach, and that he and Bannon only speak through a third party — though it’s “nothing personal.”
“The question is, is this being done to delay the proceedings?” Merchan responded.
Schoen didn’t reply.
Prosecutors, however, alleged Bannon wasn’t speaking with his lawyers to slow down the case, adding they were neutral on who should defend him.
“As long as the schedule remains, we have no position on who is counsel is,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Daniel Passesser said.
After a conference with both sides, the judge told Schoen: “I’m sorry you feel like you were dragged into this courthouse. You and your client will be treated the same as any other defendant in this courthouse.”
Merchan gave Bannon seven weeks to find new lawyers — or return to court with his old ones.
Bannon has pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering, conspiracy and scheming to defraud investors in the case. If convicted, he’d face a maximum five-to-15-year prison sentence in the charity fraud case.
In October 2022, Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay a $6,500 fine for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot. Bannon is appealing the federal case.