The US is demanding six months in prison for ex-Trump adviser Bannon for contempt

WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department asked a federal judge on Monday to sentence former President Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon to six months behind bars, saying he pursued a “bad faith strategy of defiance and contempt” against the congressional committee . investigates the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Bannon, 68, an influential political figure on the right, was convicted in July of two counts of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena.

Each charge is punishable by between 30 days and one year in prison and a fine of between $100 and $100,000.

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He is scheduled to be sentenced Friday morning before U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols.

Prosecutors told Nichols in their sentencing recommendation Monday that Bannon’s actions, including his refusal today to provide “a single document” to the congressional committee, led them to recommend a prison sentence at the top of the U.S. guidelines.

They also urged the judge to impose the maximum fine of $200,000, which they said was based on Bannon’s “insistence on paying the maximum fine rather than cooperating with the Department of Corrections’ routine pre-sentence financial investigation.”

“Throughout the pendency of this case, the defendant has used his notoriety — through courthouse press conferences and his War Room podcast — to show the public the source of his malicious refusal to comply with the committee’s subpoena: a total disregard for government process and the law,” prosecutors wrote in their filing.

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

Bannon’s attorneys filed a sentencing memo Monday saying their client should only be sentenced to probation. If the judge insists on incarceration, then Bannon should be allowed to serve his sentence at home and not in prison, they said.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s White House chief strategist Steve Bannon attends his arraignment at the New York Criminal Courthouse in New York, U.S., September 8, 2022. Steven Hirsch/Pool via REUTERS

In their memo, they argued that Bannon was convicted of statutes subject to “outdated” case law and that he relied on his attorney’s legal advice by not appearing before the committee.

“The facts of this case demonstrate that Mr. Bannon’s conduct was based on his faithful reliance on the advice of his counsel,” they wrote.

During the trial, Nichols limited the scope of Bannon’s defense.

He was precluded from arguing that he believed his communications with Trump were subject to a legal doctrine called executive privilege, which can keep certain presidential communications confidential. He was also barred from claiming he was relying on an attorney’s legal advice when he refused to comply.

Bannon was a key adviser to Republican Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, then served as his chief White House strategist in 2017 before a falling out between them that was later patched up.

While awaiting sentencing for his contempt of Congress, he was separately indicted by a New York state grand jury on money laundering and conspiracy charges for allegedly defrauding donors to an effort to help Trump build a wall along the border between USA and Mexico.

Bannon, who has pleaded not guilty, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of those charges.

The state charges are similar to federal charges filed against Bannon and several others in August 2020.

Bannon was never convicted in the federal case after Trump pardoned him in the final hours of his presidency.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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