Bannon was found guilty of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress after deliberately refusing to appear in court in relation to last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Two government witnesses testified, including the deputy staff director of the House Select Committee inquiring into the events on January 6, 2021, but Bannon offered no defense.
As basic as the words on Bannon’s subpoena, the Justice Department told jurors the case was black and white.
While making her closing comments, Assistant US Attorney Molly Gaston argued that the defendant chose loyalty to Donald Trump over following the law.
On the social networking site Gettr, prosecutors said, Bannon had posted that he would “NOT comply” with the first committee deadline on Oct. 8, 2021, after the date had passed.
“All hell is going to break loose” a day before the siege of the Capitol, Kristin Amerling, a government witness for the Jan. 6 committee, told jurors during a hearing on Bannon’s connections with former President Trump and his presence at the Willard Hotel in early 2021.
According to Bannon’s lawyers, the former White House chief strategist made a mistake when it came to subpoena dates.
Thanks to his right-wing media popularity and his friendship with Trump, the former White House top strategist has emerged as a political force in the Republican Party.
There were no records supplied to the Democratic-led committee by Bannon, and he failed to appear for a deposition last year because Trump had claimed executive privilege, preventing him from testifying.
US District Judge Carl Nichols questioned Trump’s claim of privilege, and Trump’s own counsel argued that it wouldn’t shield Bannon for refusing to comply with the House Select Committee on Intelligence.’
Bannon’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, said that the subpoena dates he used as “placeholders” were an error. Corcoran further claimed that government witness Amerling had donated to Democratic political candidates and had been a member of the same book club as prosecutor Gaston, both of whom were Democratic party supporters.
Corcoran told jurors that “the issue with bias is that sometimes people become blind to it.”
It’s a smokescreen, say the prosecutors, to mislead the jury by interjecting politics into the case.
To further confuse and divert the jury, Gaston asserted, “The only one making this case about politics is the defendant. “Don’t allow him to,” he says.
On the eve of trial, Bannon made a last-minute offer to testify in front of Congress in a public session in an attempt to delay the case. According to prosecutors, the offer made by the Justice Department was “not even a good one” because it failed to meet the panel’s request for documents.
After the verdict was read, the prosecution silently exited the courtroom without saying anything. US Attorney Matthew Graves said in a written statement, “Bannon was required to testify before the House Select Committee and provide over relevant records. He deliberately refused to do so, and a jury has now determined that he must pay the price for that refusal.”
A little time afterward, Bannon stood in front of reporters and praised both the judge and the jurors for their service, before blasting the House Select Committee for staging a “show trial.” As for Bannon, he promised an appeal, saying the legal battle was far from over.
He pointed out that the judge had disagreed with a legal precedent that cut off Bannon’s defenses, but he indicated the appeals court might take another look when the case reached there. In Schoen’s words, the appeal would be “bullet-proof,” and there were a “astonishing” number of potential appellate grounds.
“The conviction of Steve Bannon is a triumph for the rule of law and a vital validation of the Select Committee’s work,” House Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, and vice chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, said in a prepared statement.
A witness’s decision to defy congressional requests in its entirety is as rare as criminal contempt prosecutions. When he is sentenced on October 21, Bannon stands the possibility of both jail time and monetary fines.
The trial of another Trump aide, Peter Navarro, on contempt charges is slated for November. Navarro has chosen not to enter a plea.