Steve Bannon will not have to serve his four-month prison sentence while he appeals his recent conviction on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress. Bannon was Chief White House Strategist for former President Donald Trump and CEO of his 2016 campaign.
After Bannon filed a notice of appeal against his conviction on Friday, Judge Carl Nichols issued the expected ruling on Monday, delaying the prison term. That case is now being heard by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Bannon will only serve time in prison if his conviction is upheld.
When the Jan. 6 Committee was set up last year, Bannon was a private citizen. He was charged after he refused to meet with investigators for a deposition and give them documents that were important to the Congressional investigation.
During his July trial, prosecutors told the jury that Bannon believed he was “above the law” and had “thumbed his nose” in response to Congressional demands. Bannon declined to testify, and his legal team requested no witnesses.
In refusing to comply with the subpoena, he stated that he could not testify due to executive privilege concerns raised by Trump and that his attorney, Robert Costello, had advised him not to comply with the subpoena due to those concerns.
Because of a binding precedent from a higher court, Judge Nichols ruled that Bannon’s legal team could not present a defence known as “advice of counsel” to the jury. These legal questions are probably going to be the focus of his appeal, and Nichols said that some of them should be looked at more closely by higher courts.
In his Monday ruling postponing the sentence, Nichols stated that Bannon is unlikely to flee as the appeals process proceeds and that the issues raise “substantial legal questions that are likely to result in a reversal or an order for a new trial.”
Nevertheless, Nichols stated in imposing Bannon’s sentence last month that Bannon “Has Not Taken Responsibility For His Actions.”
Nichols said that the House Jan. 6 Committee, which Bannon was found to have broken, has “every reason” to look into what happened that day and try to stop things like that from happening again.
The Judge stated that some of the information requested by the Committee from Bannon had “no conceivable claim of executive privilege,” but that privilege over other topics was unclear. Nichols said that Bannon’s legal team did not ignore the Committee completely and did talk to it about its concerns about privilege.
But Bannon’s lawyers said that their client was convicted because he followed the advice of his lawyer and was politically targeted because of it.
“The facts of this case show that Mr. Bannon’s conduct was based on his good faith reliance on his lawyer’s advice,” his legal team wrote earlier this week. Mr. Costello presented to the Select Committee legal justifications for Mr. Bannon’s position and received responses from the Select Committee attorneys. Mr. Costello gave Mr. Bannon advice, and Mr. Bannon followed that advice.
“It Is Especially Inappropriate To Present This Case As A Criminal Case,” Schoen contended, adding that “Mr. Bannon Should Make No Apology.”
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