DOJ seeks 6 months in prison, $200K fine for Steve Bannon over contempt conviction

Bannon was convicted on two counts of criminal contempt.

October 17, 2022, 1:01 PM

The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to sentence Steve Bannon, adviser to former President Donald Trump, to six months in prison and make him pay a $200,000 fine for his conviction on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress, according to a new court filing.

"From the moment that the Defendant, Stephen K. Bannon, accepted service of a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, he has pursued a bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt," prosecutors said Monday. "The Committee sought documents and testimony from the Defendant relevant to a matter of national importance: the circumstances that led to a violent attack on the Capitol and disruption of the peaceful transfer of power. In response, the Defendant flouted the Committee's authority and ignored the subpoena's demands."

The statement continued, "For his sustained, bad-faith contempt of Congress, the Defendant should be sentenced to six months' imprisonment—the top end of the Sentencing Guidelines' range—and fined $200,000—based on his insistence on paying the maximum fine rather than cooperate with the Probation Office's routine pre-sentencing financial investigation."

Former President Donald Trump's longtime ally Steve Bannon arrives in Manhattan Supreme Court, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.
Curtis Means/DailyMail via AP, Pool

Bannon was found guilty in July of defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

He had been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 panel for records and testimony in September 2021.

Bannon is set to be sentenced on Friday at the D.C. courthouse by federal judge Carl Nichols at 9 a.m.

In his own sentencing memorandum, Bannon asked that he be sentenced to a period of probation and stay any sentence pending appeal of his conviction.

In their sentencing recommendation, prosecutors outline in detail Bannon and his attorneys' months-long campaign to resist cooperating with the Jan. 6 select committee's investigation of the assault on the Capitol.

"From the time he was initially subpoenaed, the Defendant has shown that his true reasons for total noncompliance have nothing to do with his purported respect for the Constitution, the rule of law, or executive privilege, and everything to do with his personal disdain for the members of Congress sitting on the Committee and their effort to investigate the attack on our country's peaceful transfer of power," they say. "[Bannon's] abject refusal to heed the Committee's subpoena, under the circumstances with which this country is confronted, could not be more serious."

They argue Bannon's last-minute offer on the eve of his trial claiming he was prepared to cooperate with the committee, was merely an attempt "to leverage the information he had unlawfully withheld from the Committee to engineer dismissal of his criminal prosecution."

"When his quid pro quo attempt failed, the Defendant made no further attempt at cooperation with the Committee -- speaking volumes about his bad faith," prosecutors said.

In its filing, the department reveals that in July, after Bannon's attorneys failed in their final attempt to have the case dismissed, his lawyer Evan Corcoran (who also represented former President Donald Trump and is a key figure in the Mar-a-Lago documents probe) contacted the Jan. 6 committee and said outright that Bannon would only to agree to cooperate with the committee if they urged DOJ to drop its charges.

The committee counsel Tim Heaphy declined, and prosecutors note Corcoran "never contacted the Government—perhaps because the Government had made clear through its pleadings and at argument that it understood the Defendant's actions to be a stunt and would not consider dismissing the case." Heaphy was interviewed by the FBI just last week on that interaction with Corcoran, prosecutors say, and he characterized it as problematic.

They also argue Bannon "exploited his notoriety -- through courthouse press conferences and his War Room podcast -- to display to the public the source of his bad-faith refusal to comply with the Committee's subpoena: a total disregard for government processes and the law," and used "hyperbolic and sometimes violent rhetoric to disparage the Committee's investigation, personally attack the Committee's members, and ridicule the criminal justice system."

"[Bannon's] statements prove that his contempt was not aimed at protecting executive privilege or the Constitution, rather it was aimed at undermining the Committee's efforts to investigate an historic attack on government," the filing says.

As part of the court's presentence investigation, prosecutors say Bannon was interviewed and provided limited details about his family, personal life and health but refused to disclose any information about his finances. They say Bannon instead insisted "that he is willing and able to pay any fine imposed, including the maximum fine on each count of conviction."

On his way out of the courtroom after being found guilty in July, Bannon again blasted members of the Jan. 6 committee for not appearing as witnesses at his trial.

"I only have one disappointment, and that is the gutless members of that show-trial committee, that [Jan. 6] committee, didn't have the guts to come down here and testify," Bannon said.

"We may have lost a battle here today, but we're not going to lose this war," he said. "[The jury] came to their conclusion about what was put on in the in that courtroom. But listen, in the closing argument, the prosecutor missed one very important phrase, right? 'I stand with Trump and the Constitution, and I will never back off that, ever.'"

Bannon attorney David Schoen said then that Bannon's defense team will appeal the case, saying, "This is just Round One."

ABC News' Mike Levine contributed to this report.

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