Steve Bannon, a former political adviser to Trump, was found guilty by a federal jury of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena about the attack on the U.S. Capitol last year.
In the case, there were only two government witnesses, one of whom was the deputy staff director of the House Select Committee that was looking into what happened on January 6, 2021. Bannon did not give a defense.
The Justice Department told the jury that the case was as clear as the words on the subpoena that was sent to Bannon last fall.
In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston said, “The defendant chose to be loyal to Donald Trump over following the law.”
Prosecutors said that Bannon posted on the social media site Gettr that he would “NOT comply” with lawmakers on Oct. 8, 2021, which was after the first committee deadline.
Bannon’s contacts with former President Trump
The main government witness, Kristin Amerling, of the Jan. 6 committee, the main government witness, told the jury that the panel wanted to know more about Bannon’s contacts with former President Trump, his presence with others at the Willard Hotel in early 2021, and his statement on the War Room podcast a day before the Capitol siege that “all hell is going to break loose.”
“Bannon’s lawyers said he made a mistake with the dates of the subpoenas and accused him of being political.”
The former chief strategist for the White House is now a major player in Republican politics, thanks to his popularity in right-wing media and his close relationship with Trump.
Bannon didn’t give the committee led by Democrats any documents and didn’t show up for a deposition last year, saying that Trump’s claim of executive privilege meant he couldn’t.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols questioned the claim of privilege, and Trump’s lawyer said it might not cover Bannon’s refusal to help the House Select Committee in any way.
BREAKING: Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, has been convicted of contempt of Congress after defying subpoenas from the Jan. 6 committee. He faces up to two years in prison when he’s sentenced. https://t.co/wP0oHT2Yy4— The Associated Press (@AP) July 22, 2022
A lawyer for Bannon
Evan Corcoran, a lawyer for Bannon, said that the dates on the subpoenas were “placeholders” that Bannon had made a mistake with. Corcoran also said that government witness Amerling had given money to Democratic candidates and that prosecutor Gaston had been in the same book club as Amerling.
Corcoran told the jury, “The thing about bias is that sometimes people stop seeing it.”
Prosecutors said that bringing politics into the case was just a smoke screen to make the jury confused.
Gaston said, “The only person making this case about politics is the defendant, and he does it to confuse and distract you.” “Don’t let him.”
Bannon had tried to put off the case by making a nearly last-minute offer to testify before Congress in a public hearing right before the trial. Prosecutors from the Justice Department said that offer was a trick and “not even a good one” since it didn’t answer the panel’s request for documents.
After the verdict, the prosecutors left the courthouse quietly and didn’t say anything. U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves said in a written statement, “Mr. Bannon had to show up before the House Select Committee to testify and hand over documents.” He chose not to do it, and now a jury has decided that he needs to pay the price. “
Bannon thanked the judge
Outside the building, Bannon thanked the judge and jurors for their work but criticized the members of the House Select Committee for holding what he called a “show trial.” Bannon also said he would file an appeal, saying that the legal battle was far from over.
His lawyer, David Schoen, pointed out that Judge Nichols didn’t agree with a legal precedent that shut down some of Bannon’s defenses at trial, but he said that the appeals court might look at the case again when it gets there. Schoen said it would be a “bullet-proof appeal” and that there were an “astonishing” number of appeal issues.
Criminal charges for contempt are rare, but so is a witness’s choice to completely ignore what Congress wants. When he is sentenced on October 21, Bannon could go to jail and have to pay fines.
Peter Navarro, who is also a very important member of Trump’s team, will be tried for contempt in November. Navarro has said that he is innocent.
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