Steve Bannon, a steadfast supporter of former President Donald Trump, was found guilty on Friday of violating a congressional subpoena issued by the House committee looking into the Jan. 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol. The ruling was hailed by committee leaders as “a victory for the rule of law.”
After a four-day trial in federal court, Bannon, 68, was found guilty on two counts for refusing to attend for a deposition and for failing to turn over documents in answer to the committee’s subpoena. The 8 male and 4 female jury deliberated for slightly under three hours.
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When he is sentenced on October 21st, he could spend up to two years in federal prison. A minimum jail sentence of 30 days is imposed on each count.
One of Bannon’s attorneys, David Schoen, declared outside the courthouse that the verdict would be overturned. This is the first round, Schoen said. On appeal, this case will be overturned, I assure you.
We may have lost the fight here today, but we’re not going to lose this war, Bannon himself declared.
He praised the jurors for their duty and stated that the J-6 committee’s “gutless members didn’t have the guts to come down here and testify.” This was his lone disappointment.
On The Other Side Of The Verdict, Prosecutors Were Just As Adamant.
The U.S. attorney in Washington, Matthew Graves, said in a statement that Stephen Bannon’s subpoena “was not an invitation that could be declined or disregarded.” “Mr. Bannon was required to show up in front of the House Select Committee to testify and present evidence. A jury has determined that he must pay the price for his willful unwillingness to do so.
Bannon’s participation in Trump’s plans to rig the 2020 election led the committee to request his testimony. Bannon had first asserted that Trump’s assertion of executive privilege shielded his testimony. However, the House panel and the Justice Department argue that such a claim is questionable because Bannon was a private individual and consulting with the then-president before the riot on January 6, 2021, after Trump had ousted him from the White House in 2017.
During the trial, Bannon’s attorneys made an effort to contend that he didn’t refuse to comply and that the dates “were in flux.” They cited the fact that Bannon changed his mind just before the trial began and offered to testify before the committee after Trump waived his opposition.
Both sides underlined their main points from the trial during closing arguments on Friday morning. The defence said that Bannon felt the timelines were negotiable and flexible, but the prosecution asserted that Bannon wilfully disregarded specific and unambiguous deadlines.
On September 23 of last year, Bannon was served with a subpoena requiring him to deliver requested documents to the committee by October 7 and make a personal appearance by October 14. A month after the Justice Department received the House panel’s referral, Bannon was charged with two counts of criminal contempt of Congress.
In his closing remarks to the jury on Friday, Bannon’s attorney Evan Corcoran said that such dates were really “placeholders” as attorneys on both side negotiated agreements.
Since the committee “intended to make an example of Steve Bannon,” Corcoran claimed that it “rushed to judgement.”
Corcoran also suggested that Kristin Amerling, the chief attorney for the committee’s Jan. 6 hearing, was personally biassed. Amerling admitted when testifying that she has always been a Democrat and has known one of the prosecutors for a long time.
Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the committee that met on January 6, was a special target for Bannon and his defenders. Although U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols had forewarned the defence not to assert in court that the committee itself was politically biassed, his name was mentioned numerous times throughout the trial. In his daily remarks outside the courthouse, Bannon sharply assailed Thompson by name, at one point insinuating that Thompson’s COVID-19 diagnosis from last week was a lie to escape pressure to appear.
In a joint statement, Thompson and R-Wyoming committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney welcomed the decision as “a win for the rule of law and a critical endorsement of the Select Committee’s work.”
“Anyone who obstructs our inquiry into these concerns should face penalties, just as there must be accountability for all those accountable for the events of January 6th,” they stated. No one is exempt from the law.
The exchange of letters between the Jan. 6 committee and Bannon’s attorneys was the focus of the prosecution. According to the correspondence, Thompson flatly rejected Bannon’s assertion that Trump’s assertion of executive privilege exempted him and threatened him with legal action.
In her closing argument, Assistant US Attorney Amanda Vaughn stated that “the defence wants to make this hard, complex, and unclear.” “This is not challenging. It is not difficult. There were only two witnesses because the situation is straightforward.
On Thursday, the defence moved for an acquittal, arguing that the prosecution had not made its case. Attorney for Bannon Corcoran stated that “no reasonable juror could conclude that Mr. Bannon refused to cooperate” in his motion for acquittal before Judge Nichols.
The defence rested its case after the motion was made without calling any witnesses, stating Nichols that Bannon saw no sense in testifying because the judge’s earlier decisions had nullified his intended lines of defence. In addition, Bannon’s team was not permitted to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or panellists as witnesses or assert that Bannon thought he was protected by executive privilege.
Reporters Michael Balsamo and Gary Fields from the Associated Press contributed to this article.