Steve Bannon, a former adviser to Donald Trump, was found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress on Friday after he ignored the Jan. 6 select committee.
Bannon will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail and a maximum of one year in prison. Additionally, he might face a $100 to $100,000 fine. He will likely file an appeal.
In her closing remarks to the jury on Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston said, “This case is not complicated, but it is important.”
Bannon, according to Gaston, “did not want to recognize Congress’ authority” or follow the law.
Bannon was required to turn over documents and testify before the Jan. 6 committee in October 2021, but the Justice Department attempted to simplify the case by telling jurors that he did not do so because he believed he was “above the law.” A Jan. 6 committee employee and an FBI special agent were the two witnesses the prosecution called before resting their case on Wednesday.
Although Bannon’s team declined to present a defense on Thursday, it is clear that an appeal is in the works. Evan Corcoran, a lawyer for Bannon, raised “a serious question” during closing arguments about a witness’ membership in a book club and questioned whether committee chairman Bennie Thompson actually signed the subpoenas.
Despite the defense team’s claims that the publicity from the committee hearings on January 6 would affect the jury pool and their claims that Bannon was prohibited from testifying due to Trump’s alleged assertions of executive privilege, Judge Carl Nichols repeatedly refused to postpone Bannon’s trial. On Tuesday morning, a jury was seated.
The Justice Department has dismissed Bannon’s last-minute change of heart as a “last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability,” despite the fact that he offered to testify before the committee this month as he sought to postpone this week’s trial.
“That is like a child continuing to argue with their parent after they’re told they’re grounded,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn said on Friday. That child is aware that they are grounded; no amount of protest will change the fact that the decision has been made.
The government concluded by stating that Congress had good cause to want to look into what transpired during the attack on January 6 and how an attack of that nature could be avoided in the future.
Our government only functions if people participate. It only functions if everyone follows the rules and is held accountable when they are broken, Gaston said.
The subpoena, according to Gaston, was not difficult to comply with, but Bannon opted not to. After Bannon received the subpoenas, she quoted his statement to the Daily Mail.
Bannon reportedly told the Daily Mail, “I stand with Trump and the Constitution.
Gaston informed the jury that Bannon was aware that his executive privilege claim had been rejected and that the laws pertaining to contempt of Congress were stringent for a reason.
It doesn’t matter if he thought he had a good reason for refusing to comply, Gannon said. “The defendant chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law.”
According to Gaston, the name of the crime Bannon is accused of “tells you everything you need to know” and that Bannon “had contempt for Congress.” She went on to say that the defendant was the only one who made this case political.
Finding out why Jan. 6 occurred and how to ensure it never happens again are not political issues, according to Gaston.
In his own closing argument, Bannon’s attorney Evan Corcoran advised the jury to forget about January 6 while considering this case.
The defense team for Bannon has made it clear that they are compiling evidence in order to file an appeal with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
By contrasting Rep. Bennie Thompson’s signature on the subpoena with other examples of his signature, Corcoran attempted to cast doubt on the authenticity of Thompson’s signature. After the government raised an objection and everyone involved spoke with the judge about it, Corcoran quickly moved on.
According to Corcoran, the senior committee employee who testified to the jury wanted to humiliate Steve Bannon because of his well-known podcast and his status as a former Trump adviser.
Although it was evident in court that the committee staffer and Gaston did not have a close personal relationship and had not run into each other in years, Corcoran also brought up the fact that they only had a passing acquaintance from a book club.
Make no mistake, he assured the jury, “I’m not against book clubs. But it’s a serious question, he insisted, keeping a straight face.
Corcoran also brought up a letter the President recently sent regarding executive privilege, despite the committee having informed Bannon’s attorney that the purported claim of privilege was not an excuse not to appear for the hearing. Steve Bannon hasn’t worked for the White House since 2017, and numerous senior Trump administration officials testified before the committee.
Corcoran informed the jury, “Prosecutors are basically saying that you have no choice, but you do have a choice.
The government refuted the case and told the jury that they shouldn’t wonder what they were missing. “You don’t lack anything. It’s not hard to do this. It is not difficult. Because it’s as straightforward as it seems, there were two witnesses, explained Vaughn. How much more lucid a subpoena could there have been?
According to Vaughn, Bannon “yelled it from the mountain top” that he was defying the subpoenas.
According to Vaughn, Bannon “thinks his authority as one man is greater than our government’s, the one that we have all consented to,”
That is what contempt is, Vaughn informed the jury.