Steve Bannon, the ex-advice to former President Donald Trump, will be convicted Friday of criminal contempt of Congress after defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurgency.
The sentencing will take place in a federal courtroom in Washington, DC. Judge Carl Nichols — a Trump appointee — will hand out the sentence in the trial that begins at 9 a.m. ET.
The conviction is a milestone in the Department of Justice’s response on Jan. 6, as prosecutors say that by ignoring the commission’s subpoena, Bannon “exacerbated” the assault on the rule of law that shaped the attack on the U.S. Capitol. . It may also enhance the leverage lawmakers have in obtaining cooperation from witnesses who resist participating in congressional investigations.
Bannon was convicted this summer — by a jury that deliberated for less than three hours — on two charges of contempt: one for refusing to testify in the investigation and the other for failing to produce the documents the commission demanded. Each count carries a maximum jail term of one year, although the sentence handed down Friday is likely to be shorter.
Bannon is also appealing his case, as his lawyers continue to argue that he believed concerns about executive privileges were hindering his cooperation with the House investigation. Prosecutors refuted that argument in court files showing Trump’s own attorney was not on board with Bannon stiffening the House investigation.
Here’s what you need to know about Bannon’s conviction:
Nichols will not only decide what punishment Bannon must face; the judge will also determine whether that sentence will wait until after the Trump ally’s appeal against his conviction has played out.
Bannon has asked the judge to delay his sentence until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit hears his case, a process that could take several months. Nichols may be inclined to grant that request.
The charge of contempt of Congress is just a felony. And throughout the proceeding, Nichols expressed his condolences for the legal arguments Bannon made about why the government’s case against him was flawed. However, the judge said he was bound by the DC Circuit’s decades-old precedent that severely limited what kind of evidence Bannon could put forward in defense.
“This case provides a unique opportunity to update the law,” Bannon said in his request to suspend the sentence as the case appeals.
In a filing filed Thursday, the Justice Department made it clear that it opposes the ex-Trump adviser’s request, saying the court must “require the defendant to present himself to serve his sentence in the normal way.” to sit”.
The Justice Department told the judge in court files that Bannon would face six months in prison for his crimes, with prosecutors highlighting the “bad faith” they believe Bannon showed in serving both the subpoena and prosecution. had been brought against him.
Such a sentence would be at the higher end of the 1-6 month penalty range considered by the guidelines put forward by the US Probation Agency.
The DOJ’s sentencing note attacked Bannon’s arguments that he was merely listening to his attorneys’ advice when failing to follow suit, as prosecutors highlighted the fiery remarks he made publicly about the case.
“The defendant showed no remorse for his behavior and attacked others at every turn. The court must reject the defendant’s request to accept responsibility that he has never shown,” the prosecutors wrote.
Bannon asks that the judge only sentence him to probation. By doing so, his court records have not emphasized his regret, but rather argued how unfair it would be for him to be jailed. Bannon made suggestions that the prosecution had partisan motives, while claiming that the case law shaping his trial was “outdated” and that he was only listening to his attorneys’ advice not to comply with the subpoenas.
“Should a person be jailed if the prosecutor refused to prosecute others who were in a similar situation – the only difference being that this person uses his voice to express strong political views?” He wrote.
Bannon also put forward the idea that he may serve a sentence imposed by the judge under house arrest.
Prosecutors called Bannon’s recommendation to sentence him to probation alone “unlawful,” pointing to the one-month minimum laid down in the contempt of congressional law.
The DOJ filing said the only exceptions that courts allow to go below legal minimums are for certain drug cases and for defendants who provide substantial assistance to law enforcement.
“The accused must be held accountable like any other citizen found guilty of a federal crime — as required by law, the court must impose a prison term, not probation,” the department said.
Bannon’s violation also comes with a maximum fine of $200,000 – $100,000 per count. According to DOJ documents, Bannon has already admitted to paying that maximum fine for refusing to share details of his finances with the probation office.
“Instead of disclosing his financial records, a requirement that any other defendant found guilty of a felony, Defendant Probation Service has told Probation that he would rather pay the maximum fine instead. So be it,” the prosecutors wrote. “This court should require the defendant to abide by the bargain he proposed when he refused to answer standard questions about his financial condition.”