Steve Bannon may soon head to prison after appeal fails

  • By Holly Honderich
  • in Washington

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, Steve Bannon said he was following legal advice in refusing to testify before Congress

A federal appeals court has upheld the criminal conviction of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

The ruling could soon send Bannon, 70, to prison, after years of legal wrangling.

He was convicted in 2022 of contempt of Congress for refusing to provide testimony or documents to the commission investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Bannon’s lawyer said he would file a new appeal, adding that there were “important constitutional questions at stake.”

Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison and fined $6,500 (£5,200).

But the right-wing podcaster, who has denied any criminal wrongdoing, was able to remain free on bail while challenging his conviction.

Bannon’s lawyers called the case politically motivated and said he was trying to negotiate – rather than ignore – the committee’s subpoenas.

Bannon himself maintained that he was following legal advice when he refused to testify before the House committee investigating the 2021 attack that sought to prevent Congress from certifying that Joe Biden won the 2020 election .

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C. rejected Bannon’s argument, saying it “runs up against well-settled law.”

“This exact defense of ‘advice of counsel’ is not a defense at all,” Justice Bradley Garcia, a Biden appointee, wrote on behalf of the court, a panel that also included a Trump appointee and one appointed by Obama.

Bannon was not ordered to immediately begin his four-month term. He now has seven days to appeal.

David Schoen, his attorney, said he would ask the 11-member D.C. appeals court to hear the case.

Mr. Schoen argued that Donald Trump had invoked executive privilege — a legal concept that allows presidents to keep certain communications private — and that Bannon would be breaking the law if he testified before Congress.

Bannon’s legal team informed him, Mr. Schoen said, “in no uncertain terms that he was not authorized under the law to respond in any way to the subpoena.” appear”.

Peter Navarro, another top Trump aide, reported to prison in March after his own conviction for contempt of Congress.

In his 2021 memoir – In Trump Time – Navarro said he was the architect of a strategy to challenge the 2020 election results that made Joe Biden president.

Bannon was a key player in Mr Trump’s successful 2016 election campaign and later took on the role of chief strategist at the White House.

He left that post following a violent far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. Even after his departure, the combative podcaster was considered one of Mr. Trump’s key allies.

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