Steve Bannon found guilty of contempt of Congress

(The hill) – A federal jury on Friday convicted Steve Bannon of two counts of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The 68-year-old political strategist, who served as former President Trump’s campaign chief executive and White House adviser, faces a minimum sentence of 30 days and a maximum of one year in prison.

The jury took less than three hours to decide on both counts. They began deliberating on Friday after hearing testimony from just two witnesses over the course of a week.

Bannon’s attorneys chose not to present their own case, offering no defense witnesses. Evan Corcoran, one of Bannon’s attorneys, said in his closing argument Friday that there was considerable reasonable doubt regarding his client’s guilt.

“We didn’t feel the need to put up a defense,” Corcoran told the jury.

Prosecutors had argued that the case presented a direct question of whether Bannon had complied with the legal obligations imposed on him in the subpoena last year.

“This case is not complicated but it is important,” Molly Gaston, an assistant US attorney, said in her closing argument Friday. “At the end of the day, he didn’t want to recognize the authority of Congress or play by government rules.”

Bannon was indicted in November last year after the House voted to despise him for failing to appear for a deposition and turn over documents as required by the special committee’s January 6 subpoena. .

The subpoena, issued September 23, 2021, ordered Bannon to turn over a wide range of documents by October 7 of that year and to appear before the committee for deposition on October 14.

An attorney for Bannon, Robert Costello, said in letters to the committee that his client would not comply because Trump had claimed executive privilege and because of an ongoing civil case at the time between the former president and the select committee.

While Corcoran told the jury on Friday that the defense felt no need to present a case, Bannon’s attorneys expressed frustration throughout the trial at being “handcuffed” for not presenting certain arguments.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols had ruled that Bannon would not be allowed to argue at trial that he was relying on the advice of his attorneys to not comply with the subpoena, or that any assertion of privilege from the executive excused him for responding to the committee’s requests.

On Thursday, David Schoen, another member of Bannon’s defense team, told the court his client would have testified in his own defense if Nichols hadn’t barred them from making those arguments.

“He wanted to testify publicly in this case under oath to tell the court, the jury and the public exactly what the true facts of the case are,” Schoen said. “However, on the advice of a lawyer…he has decided not to testify, as he understands that he would be prohibited from telling the true facts as to why he did what he did and why he didn’t. did not do what he did not do in relation to the committee subpoena. He wanted to testify under oath to explain that at all times he believed he was doing what the law required him to do, based on the advice from his lawyer.