Home » Judge orders Steve Bannon to report to prison on July 1 for contempt of Congress sentence

Judge orders Steve Bannon to report to prison on July 1 for contempt of Congress sentence

The former Trump adviser was sentenced to four months in prison for refusing to comply with Jan. 6 Committee subpoenas, but it had been put on hold while he appealed.

A federal judge on Thursday ordered former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to report to prison on July 1 to begin a four-month prison sentence for defying subpoenas from the Jan. 6 Committee after a higher court rejected his appeal.

Bannon was found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress in July 2022 for defying the committee’s subpoenas, but his sentence had been put on hold while he appealed the case. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said Thursday he did not believe that the “original basis” for his stay of the imposition of Bannon’s sentence existed any longer after an appeals court upheld Bannon’s conviction. Bannon could still appeal Nichol’s ruling that he must report to prison.

Bannon was sentenced more than a year and a half ago, in October 2022, to four months behind bars, the same sentence currently being served by former Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who also refused to comply with a Jan. 6 Committee subpoena.

“The defendant chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston, who now serves on special counsel Jack Smith’s team, told jurors during closing arguments in 2022.

Bannon’s sentence was put on hold pending appeal, and his lawyers made their case to a three-judge federal appeals court panel in November. The appeals court upheld Bannon’s conviction in May, and federal prosecutors soon filed a motion asking Nichols to order Bannon to report to prison. Federal prosecutors told Nichols there was “no legal basis” for the continued stay of the sentence after the federal appeals court rejected the appeal.

Bannon’s lawyers argued that the sentence should be stayed until they appeal it to the full appeals court and the Supreme Court. Any delay, of course, would benefit Bannon if Trump is elected president in November and decides — just as he did on the last day of his presidency on Jan. 20, 2021 — to pardon Bannon on federal criminal charges.

In a post on his Truth Social website, Trump said the sentence is a “Total and Complete American Tragedy” and suggested that the members of the Jan. 6 committee be prosecuted instead.

Bannon is set to go to trial on separate state charges in New York later this year in a case involving allegations he defrauded donors who gave money to build a wall on the southern U.S. border. He’s pleaded not guilty. Bannon had been charged in the same alleged scheme by federal prosecutors before Trump pardoned him just two weeks after the Capitol attack.

Bannon smiled as he went through security to enter the courthouse Thursday morning. A person nearby said “Trump ‘24!” to him and Bannon smiled and shook his hand.

Following the judge’s decision, he looked calm and stayed smiling. Bannon’s lawyer, David Schoen, sprung into action, becoming much more passionate than he’d been during the rest of the hearing. 

Judge Nichols told him: “One thing you have to learn as a lawyer is that when the judge has made his decision, you don’t stand up and start yelling,” adding through Schoen’s protests: “I’ve had enough.”

“I’m not yelling,” Schoen retorted, saying he was “passionate.”

“You’re sending a man to prison who thought he was complying with the law, we don’t do that in my system,” Schoen said, calling the decision “contrary to our system of justice.”

“I think you should sit down,” Nichols responded. 

Nichols, a Trump appointee, has overseen a number of Jan. 6 cases. He’s the judge who rejected the government’s use of an obstruction of an official proceeding charge, which has been used against hundreds of Jan. 6 defendants, as well as Trump himself. That case ultimately bubbled up to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the use of the statute in April. On Wednesday, Nichols sentenced a Jan. 6 defendant who assaulted law enforcement officers with bear spray — and who was caught thanks to a sting operation that a woman launched on the dating app Bumble — to more than six years in federal prison.

Source: NBC News