It was nearly two years ago when federal prosecutors first filed criminal charges against Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former campaign strategist and White House aide. As regular readers may recall, the political operative was accused at the time of participating in an alleged wall-building scam.
On Jan. 20, 2021, with just hours remaining in his presidency, Trump pardoned Bannon before prosecutors could bring the case to trial.
Unfortunately for the operative/podcaster, he’s in serious legal trouble again, and this time, turning to an allied White House isn’t much of an option. NBC News reported:
A jury on Friday found former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress for blowing off the Jan. 6 select committee. Upon sentencing, Bannon will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days incarceration and up to one year behind bars. He could also be fined between $100 and $100,000. He is expected to appeal.
This was apparently not an especially tough call: The jury only deliberated for about three hours.
For those who might need a refresher, let’s revisit our earlier coverage and review how we arrived at this point.
The one thing everyone involved in the process can agree on is that Bannon has important insights related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. He was in communications with Trump in the runup to the insurrectionist riot, and he reportedly told the outgoing president, “[I]t’s time to kill the Biden presidency in the crib.”
The day before the attack, Bannon seemed to know quite a bit about what was likely to happen, telling his podcast listeners, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.... [A]ll I can say is: Strap in. You have made this happen, and tomorrow it’s game day.”
With this in mind, it hardly came as a surprise when the bipartisan House committee investigating the attack issued subpoenas in September 2021, seeking information from key Trump insiders — and Bannon was at the top of the list.
When he refused to comply, the House approved a resolution finding the GOP operative in contempt of Congress. As part of the same process, the Democratic-led chamber referred the matter to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution, and in November 2021, Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury, charged with one count of contempt and another involving his refusal to produce documents, despite a congressional subpoena.
Today, he was convicted on both counts.
This outcome surprised no one. In fact, after a variety of developments left Bannon’s legal strategy in tatters, his lawyer recently asked U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols, “What’s the point of going to trial if there are no defenses?”
The judge replied, “Agreed.”
They nevertheless went to trial, at which point Team Bannon, despite plenty of pre-trial bluster, failed to present much of a defense. The Justice Department, which wrapped up its case on Wednesday, told the jurors that Bannon acted as if he were “above the law” by ignoring a congressional legal summons.
Soon after, Bannon’s defense team called no witnesses. The defendant never took the stand.
The sentencing phase of the process is scheduled for October. Watch this space.