Bannon contempt trial: After guilty verdict, Bannon rips Jan. 6 committee members

Ex-White House strategist Steve Bannon is guilty of defying a Jan. 6 subpoena.

Steve Bannon, who served as former President Donald Trump's chief strategist before departing the White House in August 2017, was found guilty Friday of defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Bannon was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 panel for records and testimony in September of last year.

After the House of Representatives voted to hold him in contempt for defying the subpoena, the Justice Department in November charged Bannon with two counts of criminal contempt of Congress, setting up the trial.


Bannon, after guilty verdict, blasts Jan. 6 committee members

On his way out of the courtroom after being found guilty on both counts of criminal contempt of Congress, 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's attorney David Schoen said that Bannon's defense team will appeal the case, saying, "This is just Round One."

"This is a bulletproof appeal," Schoen said. "Have you ever in another case seen a judge six times in the case [say] that he thinks the standard for willfulness is wrong?"

"You'll see this case reversed on appeal," Schoen said.

Schoen also criticized the prosecution's argument regarding executive privilege.

"They argued to the jury today that when a person gets a subpoena, and executive privilege is invoked, it's for Congress to decide whether the executive privilege is valid and how broad it is," said Schoen. "That's absolutely false."

"When a former president or a current president invokes executive privilege, it's presumptively valid," said Schoen. "It's not for Congress to decide that is not valid."

"All [the prosecution] had to prove was that he didn't show up," Schoen said. "That can't be the standard in a case, especially in a case that holds the potential for a jail sentence."

"The overreaching by the government in this case has been extraordinary on every level," Schoen said. "Shame on this office of the United States Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice for how far it went in this case."

-Laura Romero and Soo Rin Kim


Bannon guilty on both counts

Steve Bannon has been found guilty on both counts of criminal contempt of Congress.

Count 1 is for failing to appear for a deposition in October 2021, and carries a maximum sentence of one year behind bars.

Count 2 is for refusing to provide records by the October 2021 deadline. It also carries a maximum one-year sentence.


Jury reaches verdict

The jury in the contempt trial of Steve Bannon has reached a verdict.

It comes roughly three hours after jury members left the courtroom to begin deliberations.



Jury begins deliberations after government's rebuttal

The contempt case against Steve Bannon is now in the jury's hands, after the government finished its rebuttal to the defense's closing argument.

Prosecutor Amanda Vaughn began the rebuttal by telling the jury, "The defendant wants to make this hard, difficult, and confusing. They want you to wonder, 'What am I missing?'"

"You're not missing anything," Vaughn said. "There were two witnesses because it's as simple as it seems ... as clear as black and white" on paper, she said.

She said Bannon did tell the committee he would not comply with the subpoena, but "that is not a negotiation." She said the committee repeatedly told Bannon that it rejected his claims and that he had to comply, but Bannon is now defending his actions by saying he had raised objections at the time.

"That is like a child continuing to argue with their parent after they've been grounded. They know they've been grounded, they can argue all they want; it doesn't change the fact that the decision has been made," she said. In this case, she said, the committee made the decision and has the authority to do so.

"This is not a mistake," Vaughn said of Bannon's actions. "It's a choice, it is contempt, and it is a crime."

She then pushed back on the defense's argument that Bannon's noncompliance can't be "willful" because the committee didn't pursue other options or take the matter to a court, as if the committee "had some sort of obligation" to go to court and "get their permission," she said.

"That's like saying the referee on a soccer field can't make calls on plays unless they go over to the baseball diamond next door and get the umpire's opinion first," Vaughn said. "The committee doesn't answer to former President Trump" -- it's a different branch of government, she said.

As for Bannon's recent "no harm, no foul" argument that he is now willing to testify publicly after Trump sent a letter saying he would waive executive privilege, Vaughn said, "That's not what the evidence in this case shows."

"That sudden decision to comply is nothing but a ploy. And it's not even a good one, because the defendant forgot to tell the committee he would supply them with documents," Vaughn said. Bannon is "pretending to comply now," she said, and "it's a waste of everyone's time."

"The committee told the defendant many times that defiance is a crime, but he didn't listen because he didn't care. He had contempt for them and the public service they're trying to perform," Vaughn said.

"He is guilty," she concluded.

At the conclusion of closing arguments, the judge released the one alternate juror remaining, leaving the 12 jurors to begin deliberations.


Attorneys argue over whether subpoena dates were 'in flux'

In asking the judge to acquit Bannon of the charges against him, defense attorney Evan Corcoran said of the prosecution, "They have not presented evidence upon which a reasonable person could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Bannon is guilty of the charges of contempt of Congress."

Regarding the deadline for Bannon to comply with the subpoena, Corcoran said that "it was clear" from the testimony of Jan. 6 committee staffer Kirstin Amerling that "the dates were in flux ... but even the dates in the subpoena, she was unable to identify why those dates were in the subpoena at all. She was unable to identify who put those dates in the subpoena. And that's a critical issue."

Corcoran also argued that the indictment claims Bannon didn't provide documents "by Oct. 18, 2021" -- but the deadline on the subpoena itself was Oct. 7, 2021, a different date.

"In our view, the return date is either the date on the subpoena, or it's open" -- all of which shows "this was an ongoing negotiation," Corcoran said.

In response, prosecutor Amanda Vaughn said, "The reasons for the dates are irrelevant."

"The dates are on the subpoena," Vaughn said. "The committee made clear in its letters to the defendant that those were the dates and that he had violated them, and the evidence is clear that he did not provide documents by Oct. 7 and did not come for his deposition on Oct. 14."

The government "has provided sufficient evidence" of his guilt, and letters from the time and posts to Bannon's social media "made clear" that he did not intend to comply, she said.