Steve Bannon, who served as former President Donald Trump’s senior aide, appeared in federal court on Monday following a grand jury indictment on two counts of contempt of Congress. Bannon was indicted three days ago after ignoring a House subpoena pursuing information regarding the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
Both counts carry a sentence of a maximum of one year in jail, with 30 days minimum, with fines between $100 and $100,000. The two charges of contempt were filed pertaining to his refusal to provide a testimonial as well as his failure to produce documents for the House.
On October 19, three weeks after Mr. Bannon refused to comply with the subpoena, The House committee voted to urge prosecution for a charge of criminal contempt. By October 21, the criminal citation was approved and immediately was referred for possible federal prosecution.
A recommendation in favor of the charges was presented by the House committee and included details regarding their knowledge of Steve Bannon’s believed involvement, specifically mentioning a message that Bannon shared with listeners during his radio show. The committee quoted Bannon as saying “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow” on January 5, a day before the Capitol riot.
Bannon worked with Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and only served as the White House Chief Strategist until August of 2017. A point of interest that has been made by investigators is that since Bannon was not working for the executive branch during this time, there is no explanation for the days before the attack and why he was in contact with Trump. Additionally, it is argued that Mr. Bannon and Mr. Trump had conversations in late December referencing January 6.
While Bannon is now being faced with these indictments, his original defense that the conversations he had with Mr. Trump were protected by executive privilege has raised eyebrows.
Bannon was given the subpoena in response to an increasingly detailed investigation regarding the events on January 6. Along with Bannon, the House select committee issued subpoenas to several other individuals that had ties to the Trump Administration and the former president himself.
Those that have also received subpoenas have been more cooperative to a degree, causing concern regarding Bannon’s evasion thus far. It is believed Bannon is following direct orders from former President Trump to declare immunity in order to avoid having to provide information. The argument is consistent with that of Bannon’s lawyers, who in early October sent the House committee a letter discussing Bannon’s executive privilege.
Before and after surrendering to the court on Monday, Mr. Bannon shared a few words with the press that gave little insight to the case – contrasting the indictment with a loss of freedom of speech and liberty. Bannon also presented an argument regarding the partisanship that is in our federal court.
During his preliminary hearing in court on Monday, Bannon did not enter a plea and was released on personal recognizance. His next appearance is scheduled for Thursday.