Steve Bannon, the right-wing podcaster and longtime confidant of former President Donald Trump, was yesterday convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to produce documents or testimony to a House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack.
The trial, which lasted a week and included only two witnesses, tested a rarely used criminal law designed to ensure people comply with subpoenas from Congress. Earlier this month, while preparing for the trial, Bannon had vowed to become “medieval” towards his enemies. But most of his legal arguments were dismissed by the trial judge, and Bannon ended up calling no witnesses.
“This case is not complicated, but it is important,” Assistant US Attorney Molly Gaston told the jury in closing arguments yesterday morning. “Defendant chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law.”
Bannon, 68, is the person closest to Mr Trump, who was convicted of a crime amid the aftermath of the attack on Congress, which took place when lawmakers met to officially review the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
The contempt case included efforts to investigate the attack on Congress and the backgrounds, rather than the actual events of the day.
US District Judge Carl Nichols has scheduled sentencing for October 21. Each of the two misdemeanor charges carries a minimum of 30 days and up to a year in prison.
But such prosecutions are rare, and no one has been imprisoned for contempt of Congress in more than half a century, since the red-bait trials of the Cold War era.
In her closing remarks, Ms. Gaston Bannon highlighted the failure to respond or produce a single document before the subpoena period expired, prompting Bannon’s attorneys to allege that Mr. Trump intended to invoke executive privilege.
“Ultimately, he didn’t want to recognize the authority of Congress or follow government rules,” she said. “. . . This is important because our government only works when people come. It only works if people follow the rules.
“His belief that he had a good excuse for not complying doesn’t matter,” Ms Gaston said, drawing the last words to get the point across.
In his closing argument, defense attorney M. Evan Corcoran indicated that the panel’s subpoena was illegal and politically motivated, and that the deadlines Bannon had to meet were merely “placeholders” for further negotiations.
Bannon “did not willfully refuse to comply with a subpoena. Absolutely not. He didn’t intentionally refuse to comply with anything,” Corcoran said.
Much of Bannon’s litigation strategy seemed designed to bolster future appeal.
Judge Nichols had previously dismissed a variety of possible defenses, including Bannon’s allegation that Mr Trump claimed executive privilege over his testimonies and documents.
Bannon, along with former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, whose trial is set for November, is one of two former Trump aides facing criminal charges in connection with the committee’s repudiation.
The Justice Department has said it will not indict former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and communications chief Daniel Scavino Jr., who have also been expelled from Congress for possible criminal prosecution.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/north-america/donald-trumps-former-strategist-steve-bannon-is-found-guilty-of-contempt-of-congress-41861608.html Donald Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon is found guilty of contempt of Congress