Bannon found guilty of contempt of Congress, faces potential prison time

July 22, 2022, 6:50 PM UTC / Updated July 22, 2022, 6:54 PM UTC


After roughly three hours of deliberations, a jury on Friday found former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon guilty on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a House Jan. 6 committee subpoena.

Bannon faces up to a year in prison for each count. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 21.

The verdict should be a surprise to literally no one. Bannon’s own lawyer essentially admitted defeat last week during a long shot, last-minute hearing in which the defense argued the case should be postponed or even thrown out of court. 

“What’s the point in going to trial here if there are no defenses?” lawyer David Schoen asked U.S. District Judge Curtis Nichols, whom then-President Donald Trump appointed in 2019.

Nichols refused to postpone or dismiss the case. And that’s because — I want to be technical here — Bannon’s argument for defying the committee’s subpoena was trash.

The House subpoenaed Bannon in September. In response, he claimed that he was protected from testifying because Trump declared executive privilege (a power the former president doesn’t have and reportedly didn’t even try to invoke in Bannon’s case).

And both Bannon and his legal team behaved like people who knew their arguments held no weight. As former prosecutor and frequent “ReidOut” guest Glenn Kirschner noted from inside the courtroom, Team Bannon didn’t even present a case. 

Going back to the root of all of this: The Jan. 6 committee has every reason to want relevant testimony and documents from Bannon. Mother Jones leaked audio last week in which Bannon, before the 2020 election, is seemingly heard telling a group of associates that Trump would falsely declare victory on election night even if he lost. And the committee said he was in Washington on Jan. 5 trying to convince lawmakers not to certify Joe Biden’s election victory. Along with that, the Jan. 6 committee has phone logs showing Bannon spoke to Trump on Jan. 5, the same day a suspicious episode of Bannon’s podcast aired. 

During the episode, Bannon told listeners that a plan was “converging” and referenced a “point of attack” for the following day. “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” Bannon said.

That’s earned him a date or two with the Jan. 6 committee.