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Steve Bannon found guilty of contempt of Congress : NPR


Former White House strategist Steve Bannon arrives in federal court in Washington on Friday. Bannon was arraigned on two federal charges of criminal contempt of Congress after he refused to cooperate with the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection.

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Steve Bannon found guilty of contempt of Congress : NPR

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon arrives in federal court in Washington on Friday. Bannon was arraigned on two federal charges of criminal contempt of Congress after he refused to cooperate with the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

A federal jury has convicted former Trump political adviser Steve Bannon of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for intentionally defying a subpoena related to the assault on the US Capitol last year.

Bannon offered no defense in the case, which featured testimony from just two government witnesses, including the deputy director of staff for the House Select Committee investigating the events of January 6, 2021.

The Justice Department told jurors the case was black and white — as simple as the words on Bannon’s subpoena last fall.

“The defendant chose allegiance to Donald Trump over respect for the law,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston said in closing arguments.

Bannon had posted his challenge on the social media site Gettr, prosecutors said, indicating he told lawmakers he would “NOT comply” on Oct. 8, 2021, after the committee’s first deadline expired.

The government’s main witness, Kristin Amerling of the Jan. 6 panel, told jurors the panel wanted to know more about Bannon’s contacts with former President Trump, his attendance with others at the Willard Hotel at the start of 2021 and his statement on the War Room podcast. that “all hell is going to break loose” a day before the Capitol siege.

Steve Bannon found guilty of contempt of Congress : NPR

A video of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is shown on a screen during a hearing by the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol in the building of Cannon House offices in Washington, DC on July 21, 2022.

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Steve Bannon found guilty of contempt of Congress : NPR

A video of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is shown on a screen during a hearing by the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol in the building of Cannon House offices in Washington, DC on July 21, 2022.

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Bannon’s lawyers say he made a mistake with the subpoena dates, alleging political bias

The former White House chief strategist has become a force in Republican politics, thanks to his right-wing media stardom and his relationship with Trump.

Bannon did not provide any documents to the Led by Democrats committee and did not appear for deposition last year, saying he was not allowed to appear because Trump claimed executive privilege.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols questioned the privilege claim and Trump’s own attorney suggested it wouldn’t cover Bannon’s massive refusal to cooperate with the House Select Committee.

Defense attorney Evan Corcoran argued that Bannon made a mistake with the subpoena dates, which he called “placeholders.” Corcoran also claimed that government witness Amerling donated to Democratic political candidates and was in the same book club as prosecutor Gaston.

“The problem with bias is that sometimes people become blind to it,” Corcoran told jurors.

Prosecutors said the effort to inject politics into the case amounted to a smokescreen to confuse the jury.

“The only person who pleads this political cause is the defendant and he does it to distract and confuse you,” Gaston said. “Don’t leave him.

Bannon had sought to delay the case, making an almost last-minute offer on the eve of the trial to testify before Congress in a public hearing. The Justice Department described the offer as a ploy, “and not even good,” prosecutors said, because it did not meet the panel’s request for documents.

Prosecutors left the courthouse without comment after the verdict. In a written statement, US attorney Matthew Graves said: “Mr Bannon had a duty to appear before the House Select Committee to give evidence and provide documents. His refusal to do so was willful and now a jury has found that he had to pay the consequences.”

Outside the building, Bannon thanked the judge and jurors for their service, but lambasted members of the House Select Committee for conducting what he called a “show trial”. Bannon also vowed to appeal, saying the legal dispute was far from over.

His attorney, David Schoen, pointed out that Judge Nichols disagreed with the legal precedent that halted some of Bannon’s defenses, but said the appeals court may well consider the case again. Schoen said it would be a “bulletproof call” and there was an “astonishing” number of call questions.

Criminal charges for contempt are rare, but so is a witness’s decision to reject congressional demands outright. Bannon faces jail time and fines when he is sentenced on October 21.

Another key Trump aide, Peter Navarro, is set to stand trial in November for contempt. Navarro pleaded not guilty.

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