Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon will be sentenced on Friday after a federal jury found him guilty of contempt of Congress in July for defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

Federal prosecutors want Bannon be sentenced to six months in prison and be fined $200,000 — harsher than the minimum sentence of 30 days in jail, according to federal law. Bannon is seeking probation and is asking for the sentencing to be delayed pending his appeal.

Here are the key things to know about the case and conviction:

The verdict: After nearly two days of hearing evidence and witness testimony, the jury reached a unanimous verdict on the two contempt charges in less than three hours.

Bannon smiled as the verdict was read, looking back and forth between the courtroom deputy and the foreperson. Bannon’s team did not mount a defense during the trial, and he did not take the stand. Speaking to reporters after the conviction, his attorney David Schoen said they planned to appeal the verdict, calling it a “bullet-proof appeal.”

In a Justice Department news release touting the conviction, the US Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves said that the “subpoena to Stephen Bannon was not an invitation that could be rejected or ignored.”

Why the conviction matters: It was a victory for the House Jan. 6 select committee as it continues to seek the cooperation of reluctant witnesses in its historic investigation. It was also a victory for the Justice Department, which is under intense scrutiny for its approach to matters related to the Jan. 6 attack.

Bannon is one of two uncooperative Jan. 6 committee witnesses to be charged so far by the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro was indicted by a grand jury last month for not complying with a committee subpoena and has pleaded not guilty.

Why the committee wanted Bannon’s cooperation: In demanding his cooperation, the committee pointed to Bannon’s contacts with Trump in the lead-up to the Capitol assault, his presence in the so-called war room of Trump allies at the Willard Hotel in Washington the day before the riot, and a prediction he made on his podcast before the riot that “all hell” was going to “break loose.”

The role of executive privilege in the case: When the House committee was demanding his cooperation, Bannon’s lawyer claimed that Trump’s stated assertions of executive privilege prevented Bannon from testifying or producing arguments — an argument the committee roundly rejected. Lawmakers noted that Bannon had for years not been a government official and pointed to their interest in topic areas not involving conversations with Trump.

At the trial, however, Bannon’s arguments about executive privilege were not a central focus — even as his lawyers found ways to bring attention to the issue. They did so in the face of rulings from the judge deeming it largely irrelevant, under appellate precedent, to the elements of the contempt crime.

Leave a Reply