WASHINGTON – Former Trump White House strategist steve bannon was sentenced to four months in prison on Friday, three months after his conviction for contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the special committee of the House to investigate the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols granted a defense request that the flamboyant adviser to former President Donald Trump be allowed to remain free while waiting for the call.
The Ministry of Justice asked for a six-month sentence for Bannon and recommended that he pay a maximum fine of $200,000 for “his sustained bad faith”.
“From the time the defendant, Stephen K. Bannon, accepted service of a subpoena from the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol…he has continued a bad faith strategy of defiance and contempt,” prosecutors said in court papers ahead of Friday’s sentencing hearing.
On Friday, the judge recalled the violence of the Capitol attack and said the Jan. 6 committee had “every reason to investigate that day.”
“Others must be deterred from committing similar crimes,” he said.
Bannon, who was also ordered to pay a $6,500 fine, left the courthouse after the ruling, but not before slamming the Justice Department in front of a crowd of reporters.
“The American people are weighing and measuring what happened with the Department of Justice,” Bannon said, then referred to the upcoming midterm elections: “They will vote on November 8.”
But Bannon remained silent during the hearing, telling the court only that “my attorneys spoke for me.”
His attorney, David Schoen, criticized the Jan. 6 committee, which held a series of high-profile hearings into its findings this year, as illegitimate and said Bannon tried to act within the law.
“Quite frankly, Mr. Bannon shouldn’t apologize. No American should apologize for the way Mr. Bannon handled this case,” said Schoen, who later said Bannon had a “bulletproof” appeal.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Cooney said Bannon “could not have committed a more malicious disregard of Congress” by defying the subpoena.
“Throughout this case, the defendant tried to make it a matter of politics and retaliation,” he said. “This man, Stephen Bannon, should be treated like any other citizen.”
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The House committee requested documents and testimony from the former Trump adviser, but Bannon “trampled upon the authority of the committee and ignored the requirements of the subpoena,” prosecutors said.
“Throughout pending this case, the defendant has leveraged his notoriety – through courthouse press conferences and his War Room podcast – to show the public the source of his bad faith denial. to comply with the Committee’s subpoena: a complete disregard for government processes and the law,” the government filing reads.
“Through his public platforms, the accused used hyperbolic and at times violent rhetoric to disparage the Committee’s investigation, personally attack Committee members, and ridicule the criminal justice system.”
Bannon initially refused to comply with the panel’s summons, citing a claim of executive privilege. Prosecutors said Monday that Agent Trump’s actions “were intended to undermine the Committee’s efforts to investigate a historic attack on the government.”
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Bannon’s lawyers argued that a probation sentence was more appropriate.
“The legal challenges brought by Mr. Bannon were neither without merit nor frivolous and were intended to protect his constitutional rights,” attorney Evan Corcoran argued in court documents. “For these reasons, the fact that Mr. Bannon chose to place his burden on the government at trial should not preclude him from receiving a reduction in his offense level based on acceptance of responsibility.”
The sentencing hearing isn’t the only front of legal trouble Bannon faces.
Last month he pleaded not guilty in New York to criminal charges involving an alleged fundraising scheme.
Bannon and the nonprofit We Build the Wall are charged with two counts of money laundering, plus counts of conspiracy and scheme to defraud. Bannon and the group also face one count of conspiracy to defraud.
“There can’t be one set of rules for ordinary people and another for the rich and powerful — we all have to play by the same rules and obey the law,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. a statement.
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The case is expected to echo aspects of an earlier federal criminal case that accused Bannon and three co-defendants of conspiring to dupe donors who contributed more than $25 million to build a security wall along the border. Mexican-American.
In the federal case, Trump pardoned Bannon in the final days of his tenure in the White House, ending that case against him.
Contributor: Kevin McCoy, The Associated Press