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Bannon gets 4 months in prison for contempt

Bannon gets 4 months in prison for contempt

Newslooks – WASHINGTON (AP)

Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was sentenced Friday to four months behind bars after defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurgency in US Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols allowed Bannon to go free pending appeal and also imposed a $6,500 fine as part of the sentence. Bannon was found guilty in July of two counts of contempt of Congress: one for refusing to sit for a deposition and the other for refusing to provide documents.

Steve Bannon, center, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump and found guilty of contempt of Congress, accompanied by his attorneys David Schoen, left, and Evan Corcoran, right, speaks to the media as as he leaves the federal courthouse on Friday, October 19. 21, 2022, in Washington. Bannon was sentenced to 4 months behind bars for defying a January 6 subpoena. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Nichols handed down the sentence after saying the law was clear that contempt of Congress carries a mandatory minimum sentence of at least one month behind bars. Bannon’s lawyers had argued that the judge could have sentenced him to probation instead. Prosecutors had asked that Bannon be sent to prison for six months.

“In my view, Mr. Bannon has not taken responsibility for his actions,” Nichols said before imposing the sentence. “Others must be deterred from committing similar crimes.”

Steve Bannon, longtime ally of former President Donald Trump who was found in contempt of Congress, leaves a sentencing hearing after being sentenced to 4 months in prison by Judge Carl J. Nichols in federal court from Washington, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

The House panel had requested Bannon’s testimony about his involvement in Trump’s efforts to nullify the 2020 presidential election. Bannon has not yet testified or provided any documents to the committee.

Prosecutors argued Bannon, 68, deserved the longer sentence because he pursued a ‘bad faith strategy’ and his public statements disparaging the committee itself made it clear he wanted to undermine their efforts to go deep in the violent attack and keep something like this from happening again.

“He chose to hide behind fabricated claims of executive privilege and counsel to thumb his nose at Congress,” prosecutor JP Cooney said.

Steve Bannon, center, longtime ally of former President Donald Trump who was found in contempt of Congress, arrives in federal court for a sentencing hearing, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

“Your Honor, the defendant is not above the law and that is exactly what makes this case important,” Cooney said. “It must be clear to the public, to citizens, that no one is above the law.”

The defense, meanwhile, said he was not acting in bad faith, but was trying to avoid breaching objections to executive privilege Trump raised when Bannon first received a subpoena. to appear last year. The former presidential adviser said he wanted to have a Trump attorney in the room, but the committee wouldn’t allow it.

Imposing the sentence, the judge noted that Bannon did have an attorney, and while his advice may have been “too aggressive,” he appeared to be following it.

Steve Bannon, center, longtime ally of former President Donald Trump who was found in contempt of Congress, arrives in federal court for a sentencing hearing, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in Washington. Attorney David Schoen is at left. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

“Mr. Bannon did not completely ignore the fact that he received the subpoena and he did not fail to engage with the committee at all,” Nichols said.

Many other former White House aides testified with only their own attorneys. Bannon had been fired from the White House in 2017 and was a private citizen when he consulted with the then president before the riot.

Media gather around an inflatable rat decorated after former President Donald Trump as they await the arrival of the former president’s longtime ally Steve Bannon, who was found in contempt of Congress, for a hearing in-person sentencing at the federal courthouse Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

Before the judge handed down sentencing, Bannon’s attorney David Schoen gave an impassioned argument against the committee and said Bannon simply did what his attorney told him to do under executive privilege objections. of Trump.

“Quite frankly, Mr. Bannon shouldn’t apologize. No American should apologize for the way Mr. Bannon handled this matter,” he said.

Steve Bannon, center, longtime ally of former President Donald Trump who was found in contempt of Congress, arrives in federal court for a sentencing hearing, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

Schoen also defended Bannon’s public remarks about the committee: “Speaking the truth about this committee or speaking your mind about this committee is not only acceptable in this country, it’s an obligation if the ‘it’s believed to be true,’ Schoen said.

Steve Bannon, marching center, longtime ally of former President Donald Trump who was found in contempt of Congress, arrives in federal court for a sentencing hearing, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

As he appeared in court on Friday, Bannon told reporters, “This illegitimate regime, their day of reckoning is November 8, when the Biden administration ends.” Bannon did not speak during the hearing, saying only, “My attorneys spoke for me, your honor.”

Leaving the courthouse after sentencing, Bannon said he believed Attorney General Merrick Garland would be removed.

Steve Bannon, longtime ally of former President Donald Trump who was found in contempt of Congress, arrives in federal court for a sentencing hearing, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

Prosecutors had asked for the maximum fine, saying Bannon refused to answer routine questions about his income and insisted he could pay whatever the judge imposed. The judge, however, found the short answers an effort to spare court staff a lengthy effort tracing Bannon’s finances and imposed a smaller fine.

Bannon also argued that he offered to testify after Trump waived executive privilege. But that was after the contempt charges were filed, and prosecutors said he would only agree to give the deposition if the case was dropped.

Steve Bannon, center, longtime ally of former President Donald Trump who was found in contempt of Congress, arrives in federal court for a sentencing hearing, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

Bannon also faces separate charges of money laundering, fraud and conspiracy in New York related to the “We Build the Wall” campaign. Bannon pleaded not guilty.

FILE – Steve Bannon, longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, leaves federal court, July 22, 2022, in Washington. Bannon is expected to be sentenced in federal court, after being found guilty of defying a subpoena from the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Prosecutors say Bannon falsely promised donors that all the money would go towards building a wall on the US-Mexico border, but was instead involved in transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars to third-party entities and the used to channel payments to two other people involved in the scheme.

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