Steve Bannon convicted of contempt for defying subpoena for rioting in the Capitol

Steve Bannon, an ally of former President Donald Trump, has been found guilty of contempt for defying a congressional subpoena from the committee investigating the uprising on the US Capitol.

Bannon, 68, was convicted after a four-day trial in federal court in Washington on two counts: one for refusing to appear in order to be removed and the other for refusing to provide documents under the law. committee subpoena.

The panel of eight men and four women debated for just under three hours.

Large crowds of Trump supporters descend on the US Capitol (Alamy)

He faces up to two years in federal prison when convicted on October 21. Each count carries a minimum sentence of 30 days in prison.

The committee sought Bannon’s testimony about his involvement in Trump’s bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Bannon initially argued that his testimony was protected by Mr. Trump’s claim of executive privilege.

But the House and Justice Department committees argued that such a statement was not clear because Mr. Trump fired Bannon from the White House in 2017 and Bannon was therefore a private citizen when he was consulting. of the then president during the rebellion. on January 6, 2021.

Bannon’s lawyers attempted to argue during the trial that he did not refuse to cooperate and that the date “changed constantly”.

They point to the fact that Bannon reversed course shortly before the trial began – after Mr. Trump dropped his objections – and had offered to testify before the committee.

In the closing arguments on Friday morning, both sides re-emphasized their main takeaways from the trial. The prosecution argued that Bannon intentionally ignored clear and unambiguous deadlines, and the defense argued that Bannon believed the deadlines were flexible and negotiable.

Bannon was subpoenaed on September 23 of last year, asking him to provide the requested documents to the committee by October 7 and to appear in person by October 14.

Bannon was indicted in November on two counts of contempt of Congress, a month after the Justice Department received a recommendation from a House panel.

Bannon’s attorney, Evan Corcoran, told jurors Friday in his final arguments that those deadlines were just “placeholders” while each side’s attorneys negotiated the terms.

Mr Corcoran said the committee was “urgent to judge” because it “wanted to set an example for Steve Bannon”.

Mr Corcoran also hinted that the government’s main witness, the January 6 committee’s chief counsel Kristin Amerling, had a personal bias.

Ms. Amerling admitted on the ground that she was a lifelong Democrat and had been friends with one of the prosecutors for many years. Mr. Corcoran also vaguely hinted that the signature of the Jan. 6 committee chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, looked different on the subpoena than in other letters but dropped that subject when prosecutors objected.

Prosecutors focused on the January 6 series of correspondence between the committee and Bannon’s attorneys. The correspondence shows Mr. Thompson immediately dismissing Bannon’s claim that he was exempt from Trump’s request for executive privilege and explicitly threatening Bannon with criminal prosecution.

Assistant US Attorney Amanda Vaughn said in her final statement: “Defense wants to make this difficult, difficult, and confusing.

“This is not difficult. This is not difficult. There were only two witnesses because it seemed so simple.”

The defense on Thursday signaled an acquittal, saying the prosecution had failed to prove its case. In making his motion of acquittal before US District Judge Carl Nichols, Mr Corcoran said that “no reasonable juror could have concluded that Mr. Bannon refused to comply”.

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