The Department of Justice is pushing for former White House strategist Stephen Bannon to serve six months in jail as well as pay a $200,000 fine for ignoring a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
Bannon argued in a separate filing that he should not go to jail “for relying on the advice of his lawyers,” and asked the judge to instead impose probation.
Bannon, who was among the first four people to be subpoenaed by the panel, will have a sentencing hearing on Friday. He previously claimed executive privilege barred him from testifying before the committee, but the committee’s interest was in actions that he took well after his brief period in the White House.
A $200,000 fine is the maximum for the two counts of contempt of Congress — one for refusing to testify and the other for refusing to produce any of the documents requested in the deposition.
The DOJ said that the fine was the result of his refusal to participate in a review of his finances, which help determine the extent of a fine a defendant will pay.
“For his sustained, bad-faith contempt of Congress, 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.
The full house voted to hold Bannon in contempt roughly a month after he was subpoenaed by the panel in September of last year. That subpoena noted Bannon’s presence in the Trump campaign’s “war room” at the Willard Hotel and his involvement in a discussion with Republican lawmakers about objecting to election results.
They also sought to ask him about a comment that occurred on a Jan. 5, 2021, episode of his podcast where he said “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
Bannon combated the Justice Department in a press conference that he livestreamed in which he vowed to fight the charges.
“I’m telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. … We’re going on the offense,” Bannon said in November.
However, shortly before the trial, Bannon began attempting to cooperate with the committee, claiming that Trump had freed him from the executive privilege constraint the DOJ had already determined did not apply to him.
“On the eve of trial, he attempted an about-face, representing to the Committee that former President Donald J. Trump had waived executive privilege and freed the Defendant to cooperate. But this proved a hollow gesture; when he realized that his eleventh-hour stunt would not prevent his trial, the Defendant’s cooperative spirit vanished,” the DOJ wrote in Monday’s filing.
Before the trial, a judge rejected most of the arguments Bannon’s defense team could present before the jury. His legal team ultimately decided to call no witnesses and did not introduce any new evidence at trial.
“Should a person who has spent a lifetime listening to experts – as a naval officer, investment banker, corporate executive, and Presidential advisor – be jailed for relying on the advice of his lawyers?” his attorneys wrote in the latest filing.
“Should a person be jailed where the prosecutor declined to prosecute others who were similarly situated – with the only difference being that this person uses their voice to express strongly held political views?”
If the judge ends up imposing jail time, Bannon’s team argued that he should be allowed to serve his sentence in home confinement.
Bannon is one of just two former White House officials where the DOJ accepted a criminal contempt referral from Congress, the other being White House aide Peter Navarro. The department chose not to pursue charges against former chief of staff Mark Meadows or communications guru Dan Scavino.
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