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Trump ally Steve Bannon seeks probation for contempt of Congress

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Federal prosecutors beneficial Monday that former Trump White House aide Steve Bannon face six months in jail and a $200,000 high quality for defying a subpoena from the congressional probe of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Bannon, who is ready to be sentenced Friday, asked the federal court to sentence him to probation. His lawyers also asked to remain any sentence imposed pending the end result of an appeal.

Bannon “has pursued a bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt” from “the moment” he was served the subpoena, the Justice Department wrote in a sentencing memorandum in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The beneficial jail term got here in at the highest end of the federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors said Bannon deserved the longer sentence “because an individual could have shown no greater contempt than the Defendant did in his defiance of the Committee’s subpoena.” Additionally they beneficial the utmost high quality.

Steve Bannon, advisor to former President Donald Trump, speaks to the media as a protester stands behind him, outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on June 15, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Bannon is ready to be sentenced one 12 months to the day because the House voted to carry him in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a House select committee’s subpoena for documents and testimony. Bannon was indicted in November on two criminal counts and convicted after a federal trial in July.

“The factual record on this case is replete with proof that with respect to the Committee’s subpoena, the Defendant consistently acted in bad faith and with the aim of frustrating the Committee’s work,” the prosecutors wrote of their sentencing memo.

The select committee sought Bannon’s testimony as a part of its investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, when a violent mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Trump and lots of of his allies, including Bannon, falsely claimed for months before the riot that the election was rigged for President Joe Biden.

Bannon’s lawyers justified his refusal to comply with the subpoena by citing Trump’s claims of executive privilege, which may allow a president to stop the discharge of certain White House documents or communications. Prosecutors rejected that argument. Of their latest court filing, they described it as merely “a canopy for his contempt.”

Bannon’s attorneys argued Monday that he mustn’t be jailed for simply counting on the recommendation of previous lawyers.

“The facts of this case show that Mr. Bannon’s conduct was based on his good-faith reliance on his lawyer’s advice,” it read.

In October 2021, Bannon’s lawyer on the time, Robert Costello, advised him not to answer the subpoena after receiving a letter from Justin Clark, considered one of Trump’s attorneys. Clark’s letter instructed Bannon to not share any privileged material with the committee.

The committee rejected Costello’s stance, but Bannon didn’t appear for his scheduled deposition on Oct. 14, 2021. Clark clarified to Costello that Trump was not advising Bannon to defy the committee’s subpoena. Costello responded in an email: “President Trump’s invocation of those privileges absolutely limits Mr. Bannon’s ability to testify before Congress and supply documents.”

Bannon reversed course days before his trial, saying he was willing to testify because Trump had agreed to waive his claim of executive privilege.

However the DOJ called that a “stunt” and a quid pro quo, noting that Bannon’s willingness to testify was based on the condition that the trial be delayed and dismissed.

“When the Defendant’s eleventh-hour try and derail his trial failed, he never made any further try and comply with the subpoena—continuing as much as at the present time,” the DOJ wrote in Monday’s filing.

Additionally they criticized Bannon, who hosts a right-wing online talk show, for disparaging members of the committee within the media. Prosecutors said his rhetorical attacks “confirm his bad faith.”

Bannon can also be refusing to offer financial information to probation officers, as a substitute telling them that he would like to pay the utmost high quality, the prosecutors alleged.

“So be it,” they wrote.

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Bannon’s refusal to comply with the probe was “aimed toward undermining the Committee’s efforts to research an historic attack on government,” the prosecutors wrote.

“The rioters who overran the Capitol on January 6 did not only attack a constructing—they assaulted the rule of law upon which this country was built and thru which it endures. By flouting the Select Committee’s subpoena and its authority, the Defendant exacerbated that assault,” their memo said.

“Respect for the rule of law is important to the functioning of america government and to preserving the liberty and good order this country has enjoyed for greater than two centuries,” prosecutors wrote. “The Defendant’s bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt deserves severe punishment.”

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