Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon on Friday was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay a $6,500 fine after being convicted of contempt of Congress for failing to appear before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols gave Mr. Bannon 14 days to file an appeal of the verdict or make arrangements to surrender voluntarily to authorities no later than Nov. 15 to serve his time in prison.
Speaking outside of the courtroom, Mr. Bannon said he respected the judge’s decision before thrashing the House panel’s decision to pursue the charges.
He predicted a “judgment day” for Democrats in the Nov. 8 midterms.
“Today was my judgment day by the judge,” Mr. Bannon said. “On November 8, they’re going to have judgment on the illegitimate Biden regime and quite frankly on [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and the entire committee. We know which way that’s going.”
“This is democracy,” he said.
Mr. Bannon‘s legal team has made clear that they intend to appeal his conviction, which was handed down this summer.
His lawyer David Schoen told reporters that his team is putting together a “bulletproof” appeal.
“We certainly fully respect the judge’s decision,” he said. “But we’ll be filing a notice of appeal as the judge indicated. I’ve said it before and I would confirm it, I believe that the appeal in this case is bulletproof.”
Judge Nichols noted that Mr. Bannon poses a “very small risk of recidivism with regard to congressional subpoenas,” but said “others must be deterred from committing similar crimes.” He said he would consider suspending the prison sentence until Mr. Bannon‘s appeal of the verdict is heard.
The sentence falls short of the more severe punishment requested by government prosecutors, who wanted Mr. Bannon to spend six months behind bars and pay a $200,000 fine for the misdemeanor offense, a penalty at the high end of the sentencing guidelines.
In a court filing earlier this week, the Department of Justice argued that the “severe” sentence was warranted because Mr. Bannon followed a “bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt.”
The filing cites several statements Mr. Bannon made about the justice system and the lawmakers on the House panel.
“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.
The House panel sought testimony from Mr. Bannon about his efforts to help overturn the 2020 election.
Mr. Bannon, who served for a time as a senior policy adviser in President Donald Trump’s White House, predicted on his podcast on the day before the Capitol riot that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
Mr. Bannon, who hosts the news and opinion broadcast “War Room: Pandemic,” insists the charges against him are politically motivated and that the Democratic-controlled committee has conflicts of interest as it works to discredit Republicans and Mr. Trump.
Mr. Bannon‘s lawyers have asked the judge to sentence him to probation and to delay the sentencing while the appeals process plays out.
His defense team argues that Mr. Bannon followed the advice of his lawyer Robert Costello in 2021, who advised him that he did not need to comply with the committee‘s subpoena given his status as a former adviser to the president.
“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.
Mr. Bannon faced two counts of criminal contempt. Each count carried a maximum punishment of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.