Steve Bannon sentenced to 4 months in jail for defying January 6 committee subpoena, but remains free, pending appeal


Steve Bannon sentenced to 4 months in prison


Steve Bannon sentenced to 4 months in prison, but remains free pending appeal

07:32

Washington – Steve Bannon, former President Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist and campaign chief executive, was sentenced Friday to four months in prison after a the jury convicted him on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. He must also pay $6,500 in financial penalties.

Bannon was found guilty in July and his legal team said he intended to appeal his conviction.

Prosecutors asked Judge Carl Nichols to send Bannon to jail for six months, at the high end of the sentencing guidelines for this case, and impose a $200,000 fine for what they called “his sustained disregard and bad faith of Congress.” Bannon’s team asked for a probationary sentence and a postponement of any possible jail time pending his appeal.

Nichols ruled that Bannon was convicted of charges requiring a mandatory minimum of a month in jail, explaining that the “law is clear” on the matter, and Bannon showed no remorse for his actions.

The judge agreed with Bannon’s legal team that Bannon should be released and his prison sentence should be delayed until the appeals process is resolved.

After sentencing, Bannon told reporters, “We will have a very vigorous appeals process – I have a great legal team. There will be multiple areas of appeal.”

Bannon, a private citizen at the time of the Creation of the January 6 committee last year was indicted after he denied the panel’s request to sit down for a deposition with investigators and turn over documents relevant to the congressional investigation.

The committee initially requested information from Bannon in 17 key areas, ranging from his communications with Trump to his knowledge of coordination among far-right groups in carrying out the attack on the Capitol.

Bannon pleaded not guilty, and what followed was a tumultuous legal battle between the defense and prosecutors over the admissibility of evidence at trial, Bannon’s efforts to postpone the proceedings, and televised hearings presenting evidence from the select committee of the House on January 6, which referred to Bannon. several times.

At the July trial, prosecutors told the jury that Bannon believed he was “above the law” and “thumbed his nose” at congressional demands, while Bannon himself did not testify and his legal team did not call any witnesses.

The Trump ally argued at the time of his refusal that he could not testify due to executive privilege concerns raised by the former president, adding that his lawyer, Robert Costello, had advised him not to comply with subpoena because of these concerns. Nichols ruled that due to binding precedent from a higher court, Bannon’s legal team could not present a defense known as a “counsel’s opinion” to the jury. This decision is likely to be appealed by Bannon.

In a surprising about-face a few days before the start of the trial, Bannon told the January 6 committee that he would be willing to testify — publicly — after Costello said Trump reversed course on those executive privilege claims.

In their pre-sentencing memorandum, prosecutors alleged that Bannon used this apparent change of heart to try to pressure prosecutors to drop the case altogether on the eve of trial, accusing him of to try to get congressional investigators who wanted his testimony to convince the judge. Department to dismiss the charges if it cooperates.

“The defendant attempted to leverage information he unlawfully withheld from the committee to engineer the dismissal of his criminal charges,” prosecutors wrote earlier this week. “The factual record in this case is replete with evidence that with respect to the Committee’s subpoena, the Defendant has consistently acted in bad faith and with the intent to frustrate the work of the Committee.”

In court on Friday, the government said Bannon “never lifted a finger to find a compliant document.”

“The defendant tried to make sure it was nothing but politics and retaliation,” prosecutor JP Cooney said. “He acted like he was above the law. He’s not.”

But Bannon’s lawyers argued that their client was convicted for taking his lawyer’s advice and was politically targeted for his actions.

“The facts of this case show that Mr. Bannon’s conduct was based on his good faith reliance on the advice of his attorney,” his legal team wrote earlier this week, “Based on clear authority, Mr. Costello provided legal advice to Mr. Bannon Mr. Costello provided legal justifications for Mr. Bannon’s position to the Select Committee and received responses from counsel for the Select Committee Mr. Costello provided advice to Mr. Bannon, and Mr. Bannon acted on that advice.

According to them, a jail sentence was unconstitutional because Bannon thought he was acting legally.

“Any custodial sentence should be suspended,” attorney David Schoen said in court Friday, “and would not be appropriate.”

“It is particularly inappropriate for this matter to be brought to criminal court,” Schoen argued, adding that “Mr. Bannon should not apologize.”

Bannon, Schoen argued, was acting “on principle” when he decided to ignore the subpoena, and he said the legal action against Bannon was political.

Bannon, who sat mostly expressionless in the courtroom, chose not to speak on his behalf before sentencing, telling Nichols that his lawyers were speaking on his behalf.

Explaining his grief, Nichols said the House Jan. 6 committee, which Bannon challenged, has “every reason” to investigate the events of that day and work to prevent such events never happen again.

The judge said some of the information the committee was seeking from Bannon had “no conceivable claim of executive privilege,” but the privilege on other matters was less clear. Nichols conceded that Bannon’s legal team did not completely ignore the committee and contacted staff about their privilege concerns.

He also noted that the committee’s decision not to pursue a civil lawsuit to compel is testimony before holding it in contempt “cut” in favor of Bannon.

Nichols ordered Bannon to surrender by November 15, in the absence of any appeals.


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