Steve Bannon guilty of both counts of contempt of Congress

A federal jury convicted former White House strategist Steve Bannon of two counts of contempt of Congress Friday after less than three hours of deliberation.

The 68-year-old now faces a minimum of 60 days in prison and a maximum of two years behind bars for refusing to comply last fall wtih a subpoena from the House select committee investigating last month’s Capitol riot, as well as a fine of up to $2,000. His sentencing was set for Oct. 21.

Outside the courthouse, Bannon told reporters that he and his team respected the jury’s verdict, but would move forward with an appeal.

“I stand with Trump and the Constitution, and I will never back off,” the former Breitbart executive chairman said. 

Bannon also thanked the court officers and the jury for their participation in his trial before raging against the Jan. 6 panel.

“I only have one disappointment,” he said. “And that is the gutless members of that show trial committee — the J6 committee — that didn’t have the guts to come down here and testify.” 

Bannon attorney David Schoen expressed confidence that the appeal process will succeed, telling reporters it was “bulletproof.” 

Former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon was convicted on two counts of contempt of Congress.
Former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon was convicted on two counts of contempt of Congress.

“The overreaching by the government in this case has been extraordinary on every level,” he said. “But shame on this office, on the United States Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice, for how far it went in this case.”

“They argued to the jury today, that when a person gets a subpoena, and executive privilege is invoked, it’s for Congress to decide whether the executive privilege is valid, and how broad it is. That’s absolutely false,” Schoen asserted.

“Whether one believes executive privilege was properly invoked here was valid, how broad it was, etc., when a former president or a current president invokes executive privilege, it’s presumptively valid, period,” the lawyer contended. “It’s not for Congress to decide that it is not valid.”

Bannon and his legal team insisted he did not have to submit documents or give testimony to the select committee because he was protected by the former President Donald Trump’s claim of executive privilege – despite having been fired from his position at the White House in August 2017.  

Bannon faces a minimum of 60 days and up to 2 years in prison at his sentencing.
Bannon faces a minimum of 60 days and up to 2 years in prison at his sentencing.

Before the case was handed over to the jury Friday afternoon, Bannon’s attorneys made one final attempt to dismiss the case, requesting US District Judge Carl Nichols to ask jurors if they had watched the Jan. 6 committee’s primetime hearing the night before.

“The nature and substance of the segment present a significant cause for concern regarding possible prejudice to Mr. Bannon’s constitutional fair trial rights and right to a jury trial if a juror viewed the segment or was made aware of it in some manner,” his legal team wrote.

During Thursday’s hearing, the House Select Committee highlighted remarks made by Bannon about former President Donald Trump’s post-election strategy, which was to declare victory even if he wasn’t the winner.

In his closing arguments, Bannon’s attorney Evan Corcoran continued to insist that the subpoena deadlines outlined by the Jan. 6 committee in the fall were only “placeholders,” as lawyers on both sides were negotiating the final terms of cooperation. 

Corcoran accused the committee of rushing “to judgment” in order to “make an example of Steve Bannon.” 

Bannon had refused to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot.
Bannon had refused to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot.

The lawyer also attempted to prove that one of the prosecution’s two witnesses, chief counsel to the Jan. 6 committee Kristin Amerling, was biased in her testimony.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the government accused the defense of overcomplicating a very simple case. 

“The defense wants to make this hard, difficult, and confusing,” Assistant US Attorney Amanda Vaughn said. “This is not difficult. This is not hard. There were only two witnesses because it’s as simple as it seems.” ”

A day before, Bannon’s team opted against mounting a defense or calling any witnesses — including Bannon himself. 

That decision stemmed from previous rulings by Nichols that barred the defense from advancing several arguments, including that Bannon ignored the subpoena on the advice of his counsel or at Trump’s direction.

Bannon previously said he was protected from testifying by former President Donald Trump's claim of executive privilege.
Bannon previously said he was protected from testifying by former President Donald Trump’s claim of executive privilege.

At the time, Schoen told the court that because of the rulings, Bannon “understands that he would be barred from telling the true facts.” 

Days before the trial got underway, Bannon reversed course and told the committee he would testify, claiming that Trump had waived executive privilege for him. 

However, federal prosecutors have insisted Trump never invoked the privilege to keep Bannon from testifying in the first place.543

What do you think? Post a comment.

Friday’s ruling sets a major precedent for Congress’ ability to punish witnesses who refuse to comply with House subpoenas. 

So far, only one other former Trump aide — trade adviser Peter Navarro — has been indicted after ignoring a Jan. 6 committee subpoena. Earlier this month, a spokesperson for Navarro revealed he turned down a plea offer that would have required him to plead guilty.

Per: NYP

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