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Jury finds Steve Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress

Steve Bannon
Posted at 11:54 AM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-22 15:14:15-04

Longtime Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon was found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress after his trial went to the jury Friday.

Bannon, 68, was convicted after a four-day trial in federal court in Washington on two counts: one for refusing to appear for a deposition and the other for refusing to provide documents in response to the committee’s subpoena. The jury of 8 men and 4 women deliberated for just under three hours.

He faces up to two years in federal prison when he’s sentenced on Oct. 21. Each count carries a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail.

The committee sought Bannon’s testimony over his involvement in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Bannon had initially argued that his testimony was protected by Trump’s claim of executive privilege. But the House panel and the Justice Department contend such a claim is dubious because Trump had fired Bannon from the White House in 2017 and Bannon was thus a private citizen when he was consulting with the then-president in the run-up to the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

Bannon’s lawyers tried to argue during the trial that he didn’t refuse to cooperate and that the dates “were in flux.” They pointed to the fact that Bannon had reversed course shortly before the trial kicked off — after Trump waived his objection — and had offered to testify before the committee.

In closing arguments Friday morning, both sides re-emphasized their primary positions from the trial. The prosecution maintained that Bannon willfully ignored clear and explicit deadlines, and the defense claimed Bannon believed those deadlines were flexible and subject to negotiation.

Bannon was served with a subpoena on Sept. 23 last year ordering him to provide requested documents to the committee by Oct. 7 and appear in person by Oct. 14. Bannon was indicted in November on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress, a month after the Justice Department received the House panel’s referral.

Bannon’s attorney Evan Corcoran told jurors Friday in his closing arguments that those deadlines were mere “placeholders” while lawyers on each side negotiated terms.

Corcoran said the committee “rushed to judgment” because it “wanted to make an example of Steve Bannon.”