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.


Jan. 6 staffer says panel 'rejected the basis' for Bannon's privilege claim

Kristin Amerling, a senior staffer on the House Jan. 6 committee, returned to the stand to continue her testimony from Tuesday. She testified that Bannon was clearly informed that any claims of privilege were rejected by the committee, and that his non-compliance "would force" the committee to refer the matter to the Justice Department for prosecution.

She said the subpoena issued to Bannon indicated he was "required to produce" records encompassing 17 specific categories, including records related to the Jan. 6 rally near the White House, his communications with Trump allies and several right-wing groups, his communications with Republican lawmakers, and information related to his "War Room" podcast.

The committee was seeking to understand "the relationships or potential relationships between different individuals and organizations that played a role in Jan. 6," Amerling said. "We wanted to ask him what he knew."

Asked by prosecutor Amanda Vaughn if Bannon provided any records to the committee by the deadline of 10 a.m. on Oct. 7, 2021, Amerling replied, "He did not."

"Did the committee get anything more than radio silence by 10 a.m. on Oct. 7?" Vaughn asked.

"No," said Amerling.

Amerling said that in a correspondence she received that day at about 5 p.m. -- after the deadline had passed -- Bannon's attorney at the time, Robert Costello, claimed that Trump had “announced his intention to assert" executive privilege, which Costello said at the time rendered Bannon "unable to respond" to the subpoena “until these issues are resolved."

But the next day, Amerling recalled on the stand, she sent Costello a letter from Jan. 6 committee chairman Bennie Thompson, "explaining that the committee rejected the basis that he had offered for refusing to comply."

"Did the letter also tell the defendant he still had to comply?" Vaughn asked Amerling.

"Yes, it did." Amerling said.

"Did the letter warn the defendant what might happen if he failed to comply with the subpoena?" Vaughn asked.

"Yes, it did," said Amerling.

The letter was "establishing a clear record of the committee's views, making sure the defendant was aware of that," Amerling testified.