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Steve Bannon, a top adviser to former president Donald Trump, was found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress Friday for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify and provide documents to the Jan. 6 committee.
He now faces a maximum of one year in prison for each count.
Bannon was subpoenaed by the committee to sit for a taped deposition on Oct. 14 to provide information on what he knew of the Jan. 6 riot, and then hand over related documents on Oct. 16 — neither of which he did. He was charged with two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the congressional subpoena.
Jurors were ultimately tasked with determining whether Bannon defied the congressional subpoena on purpose. After three days of arguments, a 12-person jury found that he did.
His sentencing date has been set for Oct. 21.
Throughout the weeklong trial, prosecutors argued that Bannon behaved as if he was above the law by defying the subpoena.
“That subpoena was not a request, it was not an invitation. It was mandatory,” Assistant US Attorney Amanda Vaughn said in her opening statement on Tuesday. “The defendant decided he was above the law and decided he didn’t have to follow the government’s orders like his fellow citizens.”
Several defenses that Bannon’s team wanted to put forth were rejected by US District Judge Carl J. Nichols at a pretrial hearing earlier this month. In the end, his lawyers were allowed to only argue whether Bannon knew when his response to the subpoena was due. Bannon’s request to delay the trial by three months was also denied.
During opening statements, Bannon’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, argued that Bannon was still in negotiations with the committee when he was slapped with contempt of Congress charges.
“The dates on the subpoena were not fixed,” Corcoran said. “They were flexible.”
Prosecutors called two witnesses to the stand: Kristin Amerling, the select committee’s chief counsel, and FBI Special Agent Stephen Hart, who reviewed Bannon’s public statements about the subpoena. Amerling testified that the committee only heard from Bannon after he had missed the first deadline to respond. Hart talked about Bannon’s social media posts about the subpoena and said that Bannon’s attorney did not suggest that there was any flexibility in the dates on the subpoena.
Bannon’s lawyer did not present a defense, and he did not take the stand.
Outside the courthouse, Bannon publicly railed against the select committee. He dismissed it as a “show trial” after jury selection on Monday, and loudly criticized the committee and its chair, Rep. Benny Thompson, outside the courthouse in the following days, including questioning whether Thompson’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis was real.
Bannon previously said his conversations with Trump prior to Jan. 6 were covered by executive privilege and therefore could not be shared. His lawyers had unsuccessfully tried to include that as a defense in this trial.
However, Bannon had a change of tune in recent weeks as several witnesses gave damning testimony to the committee about Trump’s role in the insurrection.
Bannon’s other lawyer, Robert Costello, has said that his client does want to comply with the subpoena after all, and is willing to testify publicly after Trump waived executive privilege, a move that some legal analysts have said is due to Trump wanting someone to defend him before the committee.
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