WASHINGTON (AP) — Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was convicted Friday of contempt fees for defying a congressional subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 revolt on the U.S. Capitol. Committee leaders known as the decision “a victory for the rule of law.”
Bannon, 68, was convicted after a four-day trial in federal courtroom on two counts: one for refusing to seem for a deposition and the opposite for refusing to offer paperwork in response to the committee’s subpoena. The jury of eight males and four ladies deliberated slightly below three hours.
He faces as much as two years in federal jail when he’s sentenced on Oct. 21. Each depend carries a minimal sentence of 30 days in jail.
David Schoen, certainly one of Bannon’s legal professionals mentioned exterior the courthouse the decision wouldn’t stand. “This is round one,” Schoen mentioned. “You will see this case reversed on appeal.”
Likewise, Bannon himself mentioned, “We may have lost the battle here today; we’re not going to lose this war.”
He thanked the jurors for his or her service and mentioned he had just one disappointment — “and that is the gutless members of that show trial committee, the J-6 committee didn’t have the guts to come down here and testify.”
Prosecutors had been simply as agency on the opposite facet of the decision.
“The subpoena to Stephen Bannon was not an invitation that could be rejected or ignored,” Matthew Graves, the U.S. lawyer in Washington, mentioned in a press release. “Mr. Bannon had an obligation to appear before the House Select Committee to give testimony and provide documents. His refusal to do so was deliberate, and now a jury has found that he must pay the consequences.”
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 declare of govt privilege. But the House panel and the Justice Department contend such a declare is doubtful as a result of Trump had fired Bannon from the White House in 2017 and Bannon was thus a non-public citizen when he was consulting with the then-president within the run-up to the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
Bannon’s legal professionals tried to argue throughout the trial that he didn’t refuse to cooperate and that the dates “were in flux.” They pointed to the truth that Bannon had reversed course shortly earlier than the trial kicked off — after Trump waived his objection — and had provided to testify earlier than the committee.
In closing arguments Friday morning, each side re-emphasized their major positions from the trial. The prosecution maintained that Bannon willfully ignored clear and specific deadlines, and the protection claimed Bannon believed these deadlines had been versatile and topic to negotiation.
Bannon was served with a subpoena on Sept. 23 final yr ordering him to offer requested paperwork to the committee by Oct. 7 and seem in particular person by Oct. 14. Bannon was indicted in November on two counts of felony contempt of Congress, a month after the Justice Department obtained the House panel’s referral.
Bannon’s lawyer Evan Corcoran informed jurors Friday in his closing arguments that these deadlines had been mere “placeholders” whereas legal professionals on either side negotiated phrases.
Corcoran mentioned the committee “rushed to judgment” as a result of it “wanted to make an example of Steve Bannon.”
Corcoran additionally hinted that the federal government’s major witness, Jan. 6 committee chief counsel Kristin Amerling, was personally biased. Amerling acknowledged on the stand that she is a lifelong Democrat and has been associates with one of many prosecutors for years.
Jan. 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., was a specific goal for Bannon and his protection staff. His identify was introduced up a number of occasions throughout the trial, though U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols had warned the protection to not declare in courtroom that the committee itself was politically biased. Bannon harshly criticized Thompson by identify in his every day statements exterior the courthouse, at one level implying that Thompson’s COVID-19 analysis final week was faked to keep away from strain to seem.
Thompson and committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., hailed the decision in a press release, calling it “a victory for the rule of law and an important affirmation of the Select Committee’s work.”
“Just as there must be accountability for all those responsible for the events of January 6th, anyone who obstructs our investigation into these matters should face consequences,” they mentioned. “No one is above the law.”
Prosecutors centered on the collection of letters exchanged between the Jan. 6 committee and Bannon’s legal professionals. The correspondence exhibits Thompson instantly dismissing Bannon’s declare that he was exempted by Trump’s declare of govt privilege and explicitly threatening Bannon with felony prosecution.
“The defense wants to make this hard, difficult and confusing,” mentioned Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn in her closing assertion. “This is not difficult. This is not hard. There were only two witnesses because it’s as simple as it seems.”
The protection Thursday motioned for an acquittal, saying the prosecution had not proved its case. In making his movement for acquittal earlier than Judge Nichols, Bannon lawyer Corcoran mentioned that “no reasonable juror could conclude that Mr. Bannon refused to comply.”
Once the movement was made the protection rested its case with out placing on any witnesses, telling Nichols that Bannon noticed no level in testifying for the reason that choose’s earlier rulings had gutted his deliberate avenues of protection. Among different issues, Bannon’s staff was barred from claiming Bannon believed he was shielded by govt privilege or calling as witnesses House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or members of the House panel.
On Friday, Bannon appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” the place he mentioned his conviction with the Fox News host, saying he’ll “never back off” of his assist of Trump and the structure.
Associated Press reporters Michael Balsamo and Gary Fields contributed to this report.
HuffPost’s Zahara Hill additionally contributed to this reporting.