Steve Bannon found guilty of criminal contempt of Congress
Steve Bannon, ex-White House strategist and adviser to former President Donald Trump, was found guilty by a jury Friday of criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to appear before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Bannon was found guilty of two counts of criminal contempt — one for refusing to appear for a deposition before the panel and the other for refusing to produce requested documents. Each count carries a minimum potential sentence of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of $100 to $1,000.
The jury deliberated for a little over two hours in federal court in Washington, D.C., before returning its verdict. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols set Oct. 21 as the date for Bannon's sentencing.
Bannon did not testify during the weeklong trial, and his legal team did not call any witnesses.
Speaking to reporters after the verdict, Bannon thanked the jury and the court, and both he and one of his attorneys, David Schoen, indicated that they planned to appeal.
His attorneys had argued that the charges against him were politically motivated and that Bannon — who was serving as an unofficial adviser to Trump at the time of the insurrection — had been engaged in good-faith negotiations with the committee over his concerns about testifying.
“No one ignored the subpoena,” Evan Corcoran, another lawyer for Bannon, told the jury.
Prosecutors had argued that he did just that.
“It wasn’t optional. It wasn’t a request, and it wasn’t an invitation. It was mandatory,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn told jurors. “The defendant’s failure to comply was deliberate. It wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t a mistake. It was a choice.”
In October, the House voted to refer Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution after the panel unanimously recommended it. He was indicted by a federal grand jury the next month.
The select committee had sought to compel him to testify about what he knew in the days and weeks leading up to the deadly siege.
On Jan. 5, 2021, Bannon said on his podcast that “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
“It’s going to be moving, it’s going to be quick. This is not a day for fantasy. This is a day for maniacal focus. Focus, focus, focus. We’re coming in right over the target, OK? This is the point of attack we’ve always wanted,” he said.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the vice chair of the committee, had said those comments indicated that Bannon had “substantial advance knowledge of the plans for Jan. 6 and is likely to have had an important role in formulating those plans.”