DOJ Asks Federal Judge to Sentence Steve Bannon to 6 Months in Jail, Pay Hefty Fine

The Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed that former Trump administration adviser Steve Bannon should serve six months in jail and pay $200,000 for defying a subpoena by the House Jan. 6 committee.

A jury in July found Bannon guilty on two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to testify and providing documents to the Jan. 6 committee. His sentencing date is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 21.

In a court filing on Monday, the DOJ wrote that Bannon engaged in “bad-faith contempt of Congress” after the subpoenas were issued.

“The defendant should be sentenced to six months’ imprisonment—the top end of the Sentencing Guidelines’ range—and fined $200,000—based on his insistence on paying the maximum fine rather than cooperate with the Probation Office’s routine pre-sentencing financial investigation,” the DOJ wrote in court papers submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Prosecutors also made reference to Bannon’s public statements about the House Jan. 6 committee to support its sentencing recommendations. They said that he has used his podcast and other public interviews to criticize the panel.

“Through his public platforms, the Defendant has used hyperbolic and sometimes violent rhetoric to disparage the Committee’s investigation, personally attack the Committee’s members, and ridicule the criminal justice system,” DOJ prosecutors J.P. Cooney and Amanda Vaughn wrote in their memo. “The Defendant’s statements prove that his contempt was not aimed at protecting executive privilege or the Constitution, rather it was aimed at undermining the Committee’s efforts to investigate an historic attack on government.”

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon, center, walks to speak with reporters as he departs federal court in Washington on July 22, 2022. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

Appeal

During his July trial, Bannon’s lawyers argued that the DOJ cannot prove that he committed any crime, saying that the former White House official and Breitbart News executive did not ignore the House Jan. 6 subpoenas.

There is no evidence Bannon “willfully defaulted when he didn’t appear in a congressional office on Oct. 14,” attorney Evan Corcoran, representing Bannon, said in court. “The date was the subject of ongoing discussion and negotiation, so the government can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Steve Bannon committed a crime.”

Previously, Bannon said he cannot testify in front of the committee or provide it with documents because it sought records that were protected by executive privilege, a legal doctrine that says the president or the executive branch of the government can withhold information in the public interest. Former President Donald Trump had asserted privilege and Bannon’s lawyers stated that he would not testify until he reaches an agreement with Trump.

A lawyer for Bannon, David Schoen, promised that his client would appeal.

“You will see this case reversed on appeal,” he said in July, adding that prosecutors overreached by not taking into account why Bannon did not comply with the House subpoenas.

“When a former president or a current president invokes executive privilege, it’s presumptively valid. Period,” he argued. “It’s not for Congress to decide it’s not valid.”

Other Charges

Meanwhile, Bannon was indicted on New York state charges last month over allegations that he defrauded donors as part of the private border wall fundraising effort.

State prosecutors say that Bannon allegedly defrauded donors of the fundraising drive that raised about $15 million by diverting more than $100,000 to the chief executive of the campaign, who had said he would not take a salary.

“It is a crime to profit off the backs of donors by making false pretenses,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said at a Sept. 8 joint press conference with New York Attorney General Letitia James—both Democrats.

In an interview with The Epoch Times last month, Bannon said the latest charges are an attempt to “take me out of this election,” referring to the midterms. Those charges, he said, were brought against him for political purposes.

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Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.

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