June 15th, 2024

Trump ally Steve Bannon must surrender to prison by July 1 to start contempt sentence, judge says

By Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press on June 6, 2024.

FILE - Steve Bannon appears in court in New York, Jan. 12, 2023. A federal appeals court has upheld the criminal conviction of Donald Trump's longtime ally for defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday, May 10, 2024, rejected Bannon's challenges to his contempt of Congress conviction. (Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP, Pool, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, must report to prison by July 1 to serve his four-month sentence for defying a subpoena from the House committee that investigated the attack on the U.S. Capitol, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington granted prosecutors’ request to make Bannon begin serving his prison term after a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court last month upheld his contempt of Congress conviction. But Nichols also made clear on Thursday in his ruling that Bannon could seek a stay of his order, which could delay his surrender date.

Nichols, who was nominated to the bench by Trump, had initially allowed Bannon to remain free while he fought his conviction. But the panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said all of Bannon’s challenges lack merit.

Bannon was convicted in 2022 of two counts of contempt of Congress: one for refusing to sit for a deposition with the Jan. 6 House Committee and the other for refusing to provide documents related to his involvement in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Bannon’s lawyer at trial argued the charges were politically motivated and that the former adviser didn’t ignore the subpoena but was still engaged in good-faith negotiations with the congressional committee when he was charged.

The defense has said Bannon had been acting on the advice of his attorney at the time, who told him that the subpoena was invalid because the committee would not allow a Trump lawyer in the room, and that Bannon could not determine what documents or testimony he could provide because Trump has asserted executive privilege.

Defense lawyer David Schoen told the judge they had planned to ask the full U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, if necessary, to review the matter. Schoen said it would be unfair to send Bannon to prison now because he would have already completed his sentence before those rulings could be handed down.

“That might serve a political agenda; but it would be a grave injustice,” Schoen wrote in court papers.

A second Trump aide, trade advisor Peter Navarro, was also convicted of contempt of Congress and reported to prison in March to serve his four-month sentence.

Navarro had maintained that he couldn’t cooperate with the committee because Trump had invoked executive privilege. But courts have rejected that argument, finding Navarro couldn’t prove Trump had actually invoked it.

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