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On Friday, Trump’s former political adviser Steve Bannon went to federal court in Washington, D.C., where he will be sentenced for contempt of Congress.
Bannon ignored requests for documents and testimony from the investigation’s Jan. 1 panel. On June 6, 2021, the attack on the United States Capitol. The lawmaker on the House select committee wondered why he said “everything will break out tomorrow” the day before the siege.
Federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols to throw the book at Bannon. They are seeking what they call “severe” penalties: six months in prison and a $200,000 fine. In court filings earlier this week, they said Bannon pursued “a malicious tactic of contempt and contempt.”
The Justice Department took the unusual step of listing in court documents a series of exaggerated and demeaning statements made by Bannon to the justice system and lawmakers.
He called the chairman of the House select committee, Sen. Benny Thompson, D-Miss., “without guts” and said the panel was conducting a “show trial.” Bannon uses his podcast to spread conspiracy theories against people he considers his political enemies.
Bannon refused to hand Jane even a piece of paper. He also refused to cooperate with the probation office until sentencing, prosecutor JP Cooney wrote.
After being indicted last year, Bannon promised reporters, “This is going to be a hellish misdemeanor for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden.”
Things didn’t go that way. Bannon entered no defense at the trial in July, and it took the jury less than three hours to convict him.
No one has been jailed for contempt of Congress in decades
Bannon’s lawyer said the sentence involving the jail term was wrong because he did not believe he had broken the law. Instead, they said, Bannon was following the advice of his former lawyer.
“Should someone who has listened to experts for a lifetime — as a naval officer, investment banker, corporate executive and presidential adviser — be jailed for relying on counsel’s advice?” Bannon’s attorneys Evan Corcoran and David Schoen said in court papers wrote in.
Bannon wants to remain free during the appeal. And there are some signs that Judge Nichols may agree with Bannon’s arguments.
The judge expressed concern over a 60-year-old legal precedent that says the Justice Department only needs to prove that Bannon deliberately chose not to comply, not that he had an improper motive. No one has been jailed for contempt of Congress for decades.
The Justice Department this year declined to indict Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows and deputy Dan Scavino after prosecutors concluded they provided some cooperation to congressional investigators.
But Peter Navarro, Trump’s former trade adviser, appears set to stand trial in November on misdemeanor contempt of court charges to strengthen January’s sanctions. 6 panels too.
Unlike Bannon, who left the White House in 2017 after a feud with former President Trump, Navarro has worked for the administration for years. Navarro is battling the allegations and making legal arguments about Trump’s powers to exercise executive privilege and the Justice Department’s memo protecting the classified advice given to the president by aides.