Steve Bannon was just found guilty of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for failing to respond to a subpoena from the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6.
The verdict, delivered by a Washington, D.C. jury on Friday afternoon, could send the inflammatory political adviser and longtime ally of former President Donald Trump to prison for up to two years if the judge decides to throw the book at him. .
Each of the two counts carries a minimum sentence of 30 days.
Lawyers attending the trial had predicted that Bannon would have nowhere to hide from the relatively straightforward case against him, even before the week-long trial began on Monday.
The jury obviously agreed, taking less than a day to reach their final verdict.
Bannon had refused to respond to a congressional subpoena for testimony and documents from the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, arguing that Trump had tied his hands in asserting executive privilege. , a legal principle under which internal White House conversations can be labeled confidential.
Yet the judge barred Bannon from arguing that he failed to comply because he believed he had executive privilege as a defense at trial.
Being confused about the law was not a legally acceptable defense in a contempt of Congress trial, Judge Carl Nichols has ruled. And prosecutors presented evidence to the judge, before the trial began, that Trump’s lawyer said Trump never actually asserted privilege in the first place, as would have been necessary.
Instead, Bannon’s team sought to raise clouds of confusion over the basic evidence in the case, including whether subpoena timelines were actually under discussion (although they are clearly legible on the documents and fixed by mid-October 2021).
Bannon’s team also attempted to cast doubt on the signing of the subpoenas by Democratic Jan. 6 Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, even though they bore his signature. But Judge Nichols closed that argument and told the jury to ignore it.
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