Steve Bannon sentenced to 4 months for contempt of Congress

Capitol Riots

(NewsNation) — Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison Friday for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena issued by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The judge allowed Bannon to stay free pending appeal and also imposed a fine of $6,500 as part of the sentence. Bannon, an ally of former President Donald Trump, was convicted of contempt of Congress after a brief trial in July. The committee had sought his testimony and documents over what he knew about the Trump White House efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

His lawyers during the trial argued he was a political target and painted the main prosecution witness as a politically motivated Democrat with ties to one of the prosecutors. Bannon previously said he plans to appeal his conviction of two misdemeanor counts.

The Justice Department earlier this month called for a six-month prison sentence and a $200,000 fine. The monetary punishment is the maximum for the two counts of contempt of Congress — one for refusing to testify and the other for refusing to produce any of the documents requested in the deposition.

Prosecutors argued Bannon, 68, deserved the longer sentence because he had pursued a “bad faith strategy,” and his public statements disparaging the committee itself made it clear he wanted to undermine their effort to get to the bottom of the violent attack and keep anything like it from happening again.

“He chose to hide behind fabricated claims of executive privilege and advice of counsel to thumb his nose at Congress,” said prosecutor J.P. Cooney.

Bannon’s defense team claimed executive privilege prevented him from complying with the subpoena, which noted Bannon’s presence in the Trump campaign’s “war room” at the Willard Hotel, including involvement in a discussion with Republican lawmakers about objecting to election results.

Before the judge handed down the sentence, Bannon’s lawyer, David Schoen, gave an impassioned argument railing against the committee and saying Bannon had simply done was his lawyer told him to do under Trump’s executive privilege objections.

“Quite frankly, Mr. Bannon should make no apology. No American should make any apology for the manner in which Mr. Bannon proceeded in this case,” he said.

Bannon is one of two former White House aides who were charged with contempt of Congress. Peter Navarro, who served as Trump’s trade adviser, pleaded not guilty and his trial is scheduled to begin in November.

The Justice Department chose not to indict former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows or Dan Scavino, who handled communications in the White House.

The Jan. 6 panel this month voted to subpoena Trump, though it was unclear if he plans to comply. The committee is expected to publish a final report on its findings later this year.

The window for the committee to complete its work is closing because it would likely be disbanded if Republicans regain control of the House in November. Changes to committees would take place in January when new members are sworn in.

Reuters, the Associated Press and The Hill contributed to this report.

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