- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2022

The Justice Department is recommending a six-month prison term and $200,000 fine for former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon on his conviction of contempt of Congress, a penalty at the high end of sentencing guidelines.

Mr. Bannon’s lawyers, in a separate court filing, asked that he receive probation and for any sentence to be stayed pending an appeal. 

The memo filed in court by federal prosecutors argues that Mr. Bannon “pursued a bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt” after receiving a subpoena from the House committee investigating the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Through his public platforms, the defendant has used hyperbolic and sometimes violent rhetoric to disparage the Committee’s investigation, personally attack the Committee’s members, and ridicule the criminal justice system,” the Justice Department said.

Mr. Bannon is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday. A federal grand jury convicted him in July on two counts of contempt of Congress for defying the committee’s subpoena.

The attorneys for Mr. Bannon said he followed the advice of lawyer Robert Costello in 2021, who advised him that he did not need to comply with the congressional subpoena due to his status as a former presidential adviser.

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“Should a person who has spent a lifetime listening to experts — as a naval officer, investment banker, corporate executive, and presidential adviser — be jailed for relying on the advice of his lawyers?” they asked the court.

Prosecutors said that in his pre-sentence interview, Mr. Bannon “refused to disclose his financial records, instead insisting that he is willing and able to pay any fine imposed, including the maximum fine on each count of conviction.”

“The mandatory minimum sentence of one month in prison is insufficient to account for, punish and deter his criminal offenses,” the Justice Department said. “The court should instead impose a sentence of six months imprisonment — the top end of the guidelines’ advisory sentencing range—and fine the defendant $200,000 — based on his demand to pay the maximum fine in lieu of participating in the standard pre-sentencing financial investigation conducted by the Probation Office.”

In the sentencing memo, Justice Department lawyers disclosed for the first time contacts between Mr. Bannon’s attorney, Evan Corcoran, and the House committee in which he sought the panel’s recommendation of dropping the contempt charges in exchange for Mr. Bannon’s cooperation.

Mr. Corcoran contacted committee investigator Tim Heaphy just days before Mr. Bannon’s trial was to begin, seeking help in dismissing the criminal case, according to an FBI agent’s notes of an interview with Mr. Heaphy.

Mr. Bannon, 68, will be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols. Each count carries a range of 30 days to 1 year in prison and a fine of between $100 to $100,000.

The Jan. 6 panel sought testimony from Mr. Bannon about his efforts to help Mr. Trump overturn the 2020 election. Mr. Bannon also predicted on his “War Room” podcast the day before the riot that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

Prosecutors said Mr. Bannon “has exploited his notoriety — through courthouse press conferences and his ‘War Room’ podcast — to display to the public the source of his bad-faith refusal to comply with the committee’s subpoena: a total disregard for government processes and the law.”

“The defendant’s statements prove that his contempt was not aimed at protecting executive privilege or the Constitution, rather it was aimed at undermining the committee’s efforts to investigate an historic attack on government,” the Justice Department said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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