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Monday, December 09, 2019

Steve Bannon

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Steve Bannon refused to cooperate with a congressional subpoena seeking his insights into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and for that, he’s now facing a potential sentence of up to a year in prison. He will be sentenced on October 21.

The bombastic right-winger proclaimed his trial would be ruinous for prosecutors. He vowed to go “medieval” and “savage” on the Justice Department as he tried to fend off two counts of contempt of Congress.

Before his trial in Washington, D.C., began, the former adviser for ex-President Donald Trump riffed on his podcast: “Who needs prayers? Certainly not Stephen K. Bannon.”

Jurors returned their guilty verdict for Bannon after deliberating for less than three hours.

And for all the bluster, when given the chance to testify on his own behalf at trial, Bannon opted against it. He also didn’t launch any real defense of his actions in court. His attorney David Schoen told U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols this July that Bannon wanted to testify but ultimately would not because of how the court had hamstrung his defense.

At a pre-trial hearing, Nichols found the former Trump adviser could not argue that his refusal to comply with the subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee was permitted because of his purported concerns over violating executive privilege.

By the time Bannon was subpoenaed by the House Select Committee in September 2021, he was far removed from working in the Trump White House, Nichols ruled, so privilege did not apply. Bannon left the White House in 2017.

Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel rulings around privilege that Bannon hoped would defend his noncompliance were actually unrelated to his case, Nichols found.

The Trump-appointed judge tossed Bannon’s attempts to subpoena lawmakers—they were immune under Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution—and he rejected Bannon’s arguments that he was effectively tricked into thinking he could evade the subpoena because he relied on shoddy legal advice.

In the end, the judge allowed Bannon to argue only that he might have misunderstood the deadline for his subpoena. Nichols also gave Bannon a chance to call forward witnesses he felt could support his claims of political bias against him, ABC News reported in July.

But Bannon would do none of that.

Instead, he railed outside of the courthouse after trial dates and blubbered about the legitimacy of the Jan. 6 committee and its members.

Earlier this month, Nichols denied Bannon’s request for a new trial. Such a request is only fulfilled “when a serious miscarriage of justice may have occurred,” he wrote.

Bannon claimed the court gave jurors bad instructions and he also claimed his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights were violated because he was unable to subpoena lawmakers.

“The court disagrees,” Nichols wrote.

Bannon had failed to show any indication that the evidence or testimony he sought would actually be material to his defense. Most of it, Nichols said, would be “irrelavant.”

In addition to a possible maximum sentence of up to 12 months in prison—the minimum is 30 days—the two counts of contempt of Congress also pose a hefty fine of up to $100,000 each.

His legal troubles are far from over. Earlier this month, prosecutors in New York indicted Bannon on money laundering and conspiracy charges connected to the nonprofit organization “We Build the Wall.”

Per his indictment, U.S. attorneys say Bannon knew the group that promised to fund the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border was bunk. Bannon faced similar money laundering and wire fraud charges tied to the same alleged conspiracy when Trump was in office. Bannon pleaded not guilty then and has pleaded not guilty once more.

Trump pardoned Bannon at the 11th hour of his presidency on January 20, 2021.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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