Former top adviser to Trump convicted of contempt of Congress
Washington, Jul 22 (EFE).- Stephen Bannon, who served in 2017 as White House chief strategist under then-President Donald Trump, was convicted here Friday of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by the House of Representatives select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Bannon, 68, was indicted in November of last year on two counts of contempt of Congress – one related to his refusal to appear before the committee for a deposition and the other for his refusal to hand over documents.
He was found guilty on both counts, each of which carries a fine of between $100 and $100,000 and a prison term of between 30 days and one year.
His sentencing date has been set for Oct. 21, according to US media.
The committee sought Bannon’s testimony out of a belief that he had prior knowledge of plans to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when a joint session of Congress assembled to officially certify then-President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump in the November 2020 general election.
Trump, who had invited his supporters around the US to gather that day in Washington DC as Congress was convening, urged the crowd in a speech to “fight like hell” for their country, a phrase Democrats say incited people to violence.
Republicans, however, point out that in that same speech the then-outgoing president said he knew those gathered would be heading over to the Capitol to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard.
Bannon spoke to Trump at least twice on the eve of the Capitol attack and said on his War Room podcast that day that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
During the week-long trial, one of Bannon’s attorneys, Evan Corcoran, argued that the charges leveled against his client were politically motivated.
The former top Trump adviser “didn’t intentionally refuse to comply with a subpoena. Absolutely not,” Corcoran said. “He didn’t intentionally refuse to comply with anything.”
Bannon, who had reversed course earlier this month and told the Jan. 6 committee that he would be willing to testify after Trump had waived executive privilege, was mostly silent during the proceedings in court.
But he was defiant after the verdict.
“I only have one disappointment. And that is the gutless members of that show trial committee … didn’t have the guts to come down here and testify in open court,” he said on the steps of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, referring to his defense team’s failed attempt to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other committee members to the stand.
Bannon’s defense team vowed to appeal, saying that pre-trial rulings by the judge blocked jurors from hearing key evidence in the case and made the verdict a foregone conclusion. EFE