Appeals court set to consider Steve Bannon's contempt of Congress conviction

Washington — Attorneys for former Trump chief White House strategist Steve Bannon and federal prosecutors are set to appear in a Washington, D.C., courtroom on Thursday for oral arguments over whether a jury’s conviction of Bannon last year should be overturned. 

The political strategist was found guilty in July 2022 of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Judge Carl Nichols subsequently sentenced Bannon to 4 months in prison but agreed to suspend the sentence — which also included $6,500 in financial penalties — as he appealed the conviction due to what the judge characterized as unresolved constitutional questions. 

Bannon, a private citizen at the time of the Jan. 6 committee’s work, was charged after he rejected demands that he sit for a deposition and hand over records relevant to the congressional probe. The congressional investigators were interested in Bannon’s work in over a dozen key areas, ranging from his communications with former President Trump to his knowledge of coordination between right-wing extremist groups in carrying out the assault on the U.S. Capitol.

During the trial, prosecutors told the jury that Bannon thought he was “above the law” and “thumbed his nose” at congressional demands. Bannon himself did not testify and his legal team called no witnesses. 

The Trump ally maintained at the time of his refusal that he could not testify because of executive privilege concerns raised by the former president, adding that his attorney had advised him not to comply with the subpoena because of those concerns. 

The judge said binding legal precedent barred Bannon from telling the jury that he had refused the committee’s demands on the advice of his counsel. Prosecutors successfully argued it was irrelevant to his legal defense. 

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