Steve Bannon, a former top advisor to Trump in the White House, was sentenced to four months in jail on Friday for ignoring a subpoena from the congressional investigation of the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.
Bannon was also given a $6,500 fine by a U.S. District judge. But he decided that Bannon won’t have to do the time until a likely appeal is over. Both the jail time and the fine were less than what federal prosecutors had asked for.
With this trial, Bannon becomes one of the most well-known people to go to jail on charges related to the insurrection. The top end of the federal sentencing guidelines was six months in jail and a fine of up to $200,000. This is what the prosecutors wanted the court to do to Bannon.
Prosecutors said that Bannon, a right-wing media figure and one-time close friend of former President Donald Trump, “consistently acted in bad faith” when he tried to stop the investigation by the House select committee.
Bannon had asked for probation from federal judge Carl Nichols. His lawyers also said that any sentence should be put off until an appeals court could look at the case.
But during the sentencing hearing, Nichols said that Bannon must spend at least one month in jail because the law says so.
The judge also agreed with the prosecutors that Bannon “has never apologized and has always attacked the select committee.” When given the chance to speak for himself, Bannon told the judge, “Your Honor, my lawyers have already spoken for me.”
Bannon was given his sentence exactly one year to the day after the House voted to hold him in contempt of Congress for not giving documents and testimony when asked by a House select committee. Bannon was charged with two crimes in November and found guilty after a federal trial in July.
The lawyer for Bannon had said that the subpoena would go against Trump’s executive privilege, which is the power of the president to keep some information from the public.
But days before his trial, Bannon changed his mind and said he was willing to talk because Trump had agreed to drop his claim of executive privilege.
That was called a stunt by the prosecutors. In a court filing on Monday, they said that after Bannon’s plan to delay the trial didn’t work, “he never tried again to follow the subpoena, and he still hasn’t.”
When Bannon ignored the subpoena from the select committee, his lawyers argued, in part, that he should get a light sentence because he was just following his lawyer’s advice.
In a court filing this week, the defendant’s lawyers said, “The facts of this case show that Mr. Bannon’s actions were based on his good-faith reliance on his lawyer’s advice.”
But prosecutors from the Justice Department said that Bannon “followed a bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt” from “the moment” he got the subpoena.
They told the court, “No one could have shown more disrespect than the Defendant did by ignoring the Committee’s subpoena.”
“The people who attacked the Capitol on January 6 were not just attacking a building. They were attacking the rule of law, which is what this country was built on and what keeps it going. “The Defendant made the attack worse by ignoring the Select Committee’s subpoena and its authority,” their memo said.
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