Steve Bannon Convicted of Contempt in US Capitol Riot Case on January 6

WASHINGTON-

Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was sentenced Friday on contempt charges for defying a congressional subpoena from the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

Bannon was found guilty after a trial that lasted about five days in federal court in Washington on two charges: one for refusing to appear for a deposition and the other for refusing to provide documents in response to a committee subpoena.

He faces up to two years in a federal jail when sentenced. Each charge carries a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail.

The jury of eight men and four women deliberated for just under three hours before returning the verdict.


THIS IS A LAST MINUTE UPDATE. The previous AP story follows below.

Closing arguments were expected Friday in Steve Bannon’s contempt of Congress trial, with the jury likely to win the case against the onetime Donald Trump ally.

Bannon is charged with two counts of criminal contempt for refusing to appear before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection on Capitol Hill and the events leading up to the deadly riot. Each charge carries a minimum of 30 days in jail and up to one year.

Bannon refused to testify Thursday and his attorneys did not call any witnesses, arguing that the judge should dismiss the charges for not proving them. US District Judge Carl Nichols did not immediately rule on the request.

Bannon was providing unofficial services to Trump at the time of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. The committee, which held a prime-time hearing Thursday that included comments from Bannon on Trump’s post-election strategy, wanted to speak with Bannon because he had Information that he was actively involved in planning, logistics, and fundraising for Trump’s efforts to nullify the 2020 election and prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.

The panel’s subpoena demanded any documents or communications related to Trump and others in his orbit, including attorney Rudy Giuliani and extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

Evan Corcoran, Bannon’s attorney, argued that the charges against him were politically motivated and that Bannon had been engaged in good faith negotiations with the congressional committee over his concern to testify. “No one ignored the citation,” Corcoran told the jury.

Corcoran has tried to establish that the deadline for Bannon to appear before the House committee was flexible, as long as the two sides were negotiating the timing. He said testimony from the House panel’s lead attorney, Kristin Amerling, made it clear “that the dates were changing.”

Corcoran said that “no reasonable jury could conclude that Mr. Bannon refused to comply.”

Bannon’s team told the judge that Bannon saw no point in testifying at his trial since Nichols’ previous rulings had destroyed his avenues of defense. Among other things, Bannon’s team was barred from calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or members of the House panel as witnesses.

Another Bannon attorney, David Schoen, said Bannon “understands that he would be prohibited from telling the true facts.”

Much of the trial testimony relied on Amerling, who explained the extent to which the committee tried to engage Bannon and the timeline that led to the missed deadline.

During cross-examination, Corcoran asked Amerling if it was common for witnesses to appear before a congressional committee several weeks after a subpoena deadline. Amerling answered “yes”, but added only “when the witnesses are cooperating with the committee”.

Amerling said that Bannon was uncooperative from the start, so there was no such wiggle room.

The committee did not hear from Bannon until after the first deadline had passed, at which point his attorney sent the committee a letter stating that Bannon was protected by Trump’s executive privilege and would not provide documents or appear. The committee responded in writing that Trump’s claim was invalid: Trump was no longer president and Bannon was not working in the White House at the time of the riots.

Assistant United States Attorney Amanda Vaughn told the jury that the subpoena issued to Bannon “was not optional. It was not a request, and it was not an invitation. It was mandatory.” She added: “The defendant’s breach was deliberate. It was not an accident, it was not a mistake. It was a choice.”

Bannon was indicted in November on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress, a month after the US Justice Department received the House panel’s referral.

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