Steve Bannon found guilty in contempt trial after defying subpoena from Jan 6 committee

Bannon disappointed panel members ‘didn’t have the guts to come down here and testify in open court’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
,Josh Marcus
Friday 22 July 2022 22:34 BST
Related video: Judge Rejects Requests For Delay In Steve Bannon’s Trial
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Steve Bannon has been found guilty of contempt of Congress after ignoring a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection on January 6.

The former Trump adviser was found guilty on two counts and he’s now facing a prison sentence of between 30 days and a year for each of the misdemeanour charges, though that’s rare for this kind of offence.

Bannon could also be fined between $100 and $100,000. Speaking to the press outside the courthouse after the verdict, Mr Bannon’s lawyer David Schoen said it was a “bulletproof appeal”.

“You will see this case reversed”, he added.

The jury deliberated for almost three hours, including a lunch break.

The first count is for failing to appear for a deposition in October of last year and the second count is for refusing to provide materials by the deadline that same month. Both counts carry a maximum sentence of a year in prison. Federal law states that the minimum sentence is 30 days in jail. The sentencing hearing has been scheduled for 21 October.

Mr Bannon smiled as the verdict was announced, looking from side to side at the courtroom deputy and the foreperson, CNN reported.

The judge told the Justice Department to submit its sentencing recommendation by 14 October.

The former Trump aide appeared to be in good spirits before the verdict was announced, throwing down his facemask upon arrival, and spending a few minutes on his phone, CNN noted.

Mr Bannon told the press outside the courthouse that he respected the jury’s decision and that “we may have lost a battle here today but we’re not going to lose this war”.

“I stand with Trump and the constitution and I will never back off that ever”, he said.

Mr Schoen called the trial “round one” and that the government’s “overreaching has been extraordinary on every level”.

Mr Bannon said: “I only have one disappointment and that is the gutless members of that show trial committee, the J 6 committee, didn’t have the guts to come down here and testify in open court”.

DC US attorney Matthew Graves said in a statement that “the subpoena to Stephen Bannon was not an invitation that could be rejected or ignored”.

“Mr Bannon had an obligation to appear before the House Select Committee to give testimony and provide documents. His refusal to do so was deliberate and now a jury has found that he must pay the consequences”, he added.

“The tenets of our government rely upon citizens adhering to the established rules of law. Lawful tools, such as subpoenas and other legal orders, are critical in our system of government”, the assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, Steven D’Antuono, added.

“Mr Bannon was found guilty of contempt by a jury of his peers for his choice to ignore a lawful subpoena. The FBI will continue our sworn duty to investigate those who have committed violations of our laws and hold them accountable for their actions”, he said.

“This case is not complicated, but it is important,” prosecutor Molly Gaston said during closing arguments on Friday.

She told jurors Mr Bannon “chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law” and ignored the committee’s requests for information about the Capitol insurrection.

Sending the former Trump White House chief strategist a subpoena was an early priority for the committee, owing to his reported presence in the infamous Willard Hotel “war room” of Trump allies in Washington, DC, on 5 January. The Trump ally had also made previous predictions on his podcast that “all hell” was “going to break loose” on 6 January.

Mr Bannon himself did not testify during the contempt trial, but his defence argued the committee’s subpoenas were invalid and politically driven, anchored by “placeholder” deadlines that were still subject to negotiation.

The Trump adviser “didn’t intentionally refuse to comply with a subpoena. Absolutely not. He didn’t intentionally refuse to comply with anything,” his attorney Evan Corcoran argued.

The defence argued prosecutors didn’t meet their burden of proof, and that US district judge Carl J Nichols wrongly rejected a request to call in January 6 committee chairman Bennie Thompson for questioning.

The Trump adviser has argued he thought he couldn’t cooperate with the committee until he got Donald Trump’s sign-off, citing executive privilege.

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