Steve Bannon was found guilty on Friday on charges of contempt of Congress related to his refusal to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee. Bannon is the first Trumpworld figure to be held accountable in court for their refusal to cooperate with the panel’s investigation. The jury returned the verdict in less than three hours — including lunch.
Bannon was charged in November with two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to honor the subpoena. He’s been found guilty of both of them, with each potentially carrying a penalty of 30 days to a year of jail time. Bannon is set to be sentenced on Oct. 21, pending an appeal, which is likely considering Bannon attorney David Schoen told reporters that their case to challenge the verdict is “bulletproof.”
Bannon pledges appeal after I ask him about “Misdemeanor from hell” pic.twitter.com/vG4aI1qQLG
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) July 22, 2022
During closing arguments on Friday morning, Bannon attorney Evan Corcoran tried to argue the case was political and that his client didn’t intentionally refuse to comply with the subpoena, while the Justice Department attorney Molly Gaston laid out the simple gist of the prosecution’s argument. “The case is not complicated, but it is important,” she said. “The defendant chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law.”
On Thursday, Bannon and his defense declined to present any witnesses or have Bannon testify before the jury, instead arguing to the judge that Bannon should simply be acquitted.
The Jan. 6 committee responded to Bannon’s conviction on Friday. “The conviction of Steve Bannon is a victory for the rule of law and an important affirmation of the Select Committee’s work,” the committee wrote. “As the prosecutor stated, Steve Bannon ‘chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law.’ Just as there must be accountability for all those responsible for the events of January 6th, anyone who obstructs our investigation into these matters should face consequences. No one is above the law.”
Just as there must be accountability for all those responsible for the events of January 6th, anyone who obstructs our investigation into these matters should face consequences.
No one is above the law.
— January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) July 22, 2022
The committee sought to interview Bannon in regard to his communications with Trump and other advisers in the days leading up to Jan. 6. On the Jan. 5 edition of his radio show, Bannon said he expected that “all hell is going to break loose” the following day. “I’ll tell you this: It’s not going to happen like you think it’s going to happen,” he told listeners. “It’s going to be quite extraordinarily different. All I can say is, strap in.” Bannon also participated in the “war room” at the Willard Hotel, where prominent Trumpworld figures plotted how to overturn the 2020 election ahead of Jan. 6.
White House call logs indicate that Trump and Bannon spoke at least twice on Jan. 5, including once before Bannon’s live broadcast. Bannon also reportedly spoke to Trump on Jan. 6.
In a letter to the committee earlier this month, Bannon’s attorneys provided a letter from Trump telling Bannon that if “an agreement on a time and place for your testimony, I will waive Executive Privilege for you, which allows you to go in and testify truthfully and fairly.”
Department of Justice prosecutors revealed in July that Trump’s lawyer Justin Clark was interviewed by FBI investigators on June 29. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn, Clark has contradicted statements made by Bannon, who has long claimed that his correspondence with Clark allowed Trump to invoke executive privilege over Bannon’s testimony.
Clark reportedly told the FBI “that the former president never invoked executive privilege over any particular information or materials,” and “that [Bannon’s] attorney misrepresented to the Committee what the former President’s counsel had told” him.
Clark allegedly went on to say that “the former President’s counsel made clear to [Bannon’s] attorney that a letter provided no basis for total noncompliance.”
Bannon isn’t the only former Trump adviser to be charged with contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee. Peter Navarro, who served as Trump’s trade adviser and proudly participated in the effort to overturn the 2020 election, was arrested and charged last month. His trial is currently set to begin in November.