Former Trump aide Steve Bannon found guilty of contempt

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Former president Donald Trump‘s supporter Steve Bannon was found guilty of contempt on Friday for ignoring a congressional subpoena from the House committee looking into the January 6 uprising at the US Capitol.

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 jury of 8 men and 4 women deliberated for just under three hours.

On October 21, he will be sentenced, and the maximum term is two years in federal prison.
A minimum prison term of 30 days is imposed on each offence.

One of Bannon’s attorneys, David Schoen, declared outside the courthouse that the judgment will 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.

The gutless members of that show trial committee, the J-6 committee, he added, “didn’t have the courage to come down here and testify.” He thanked the jurors for their service and stated that he had just one disappointment.

On the opposite side of the verdict, prosecutors were just as adamant.

“Stephen Bannon’s subpoena was not an invitation that could be turned down or disregarded, “The US attorney in Washington, Matthew Graves, said in a statement.

“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 charge is questionable because Bannon was a private citizen and talking with the then-president prior to the riot on January 6, 2021 because Trump had ousted Bannon 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 appear before the committee after Trump waived his opposition.

Both sides underlined their main points from the trial during closing statements on Friday morning.
The defense 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 papers 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 recommendation, 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 judgment.”

Corcoran also hinted that the government’s main witness, January 6 committee chief counsel Kristin Amerling, was personally biased.

Amerling admitted on the stand that she is a lifelong Democrat and has been friends with one of the prosecutors for years. Corcoran also vaguely hinted that the signature of January 6 committee chairman Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) looked different on the subpoena than on other letters but dropped that topic when the prosecution objected.
Prosecutors focused on the series of letters exchanged between the January 6 committee and Bannon’s lawyers.
 
The correspondence shows Thompson immediately dismissing Bannon’s claim that he was exempted by Trump’s claim of executive privilege and explicitly threatening Bannon with criminal prosecution.
 
“The defence wants to make this hard, difficult and confusing,” said Assistant US Attorney Amanda Vaughn in her closing statement.
 
“This is not difficult. This is not hard. There were only two witnesses because it’s as simple as it seems.”
On Thursday, the defense moved for an acquittal, arguing that the prosecution had not made its case.

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