Here’s a nice start to a Monday: the prospect of Steve Bannon sitting in jail and paying the maximum fine for his contempt of Congress, and of the rule of law. The Department of Justice has demanded the maximum fine of $200,000 and a jail sentence of six months for the Trump aide. Prosecutors said in their sentencing recommendation memo that, from the moment the Jan. 6 select committee subpoenaed him, Bannon “has pursued a bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt.”
Bannon was found guilty of two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress last July over his refusal to testify to the Jan. 6 committee and to provide documents. His sentencing by U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols is scheduled for this Friday.
Federal prosecutors point out in their sentencing memo that Bannon tried to derail the case against him just days before his hearing by announcing that he would, after all, cooperate. “His effort to exact a quid pro quo with the Committee to persuade the Department of Justice to delay trial and dismiss the charges against him should leave no doubt that his contempt was deliberate and continues to this day,” the prosecutors argued.
J.P. Cooney and Amanda Vaughn, the Justice Department lawyers, revealed in their memo that Bannon’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, had tried to get one of the select committee’s stop investigators, Tim Heaphy, to work with him to get the contempt case dismissed with a last-minute cooperation deal. The FBI interviewed Heaphy on October 7, and Heaphy recalled their phone conversation. He had taken notes during the call, as well as having another committee staffer join as a potential witness. Heaphy told the FBI that “the overall ‘vibe’ of his conversation” was an “attempt to solicit the Select Committee’s assistance in their effort to delay Bannon’s criminal trial and obtain a dismissal of the Contempt of Congress charges pending against him.”
The prosecutors also argue that Bannon has clearly continued to use his podcast and his courthouse appearances to attack the Jan. 6 investigation. “Throughout the pendency of this case, the Defendant 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,” Justice Department lawyers wrote.
“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,” prosecutors wrote. “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 rioters who overran the Capitol on January 6 did not just attack a building—they assaulted the rule of law upon which this country was built and through which it endure,” prosecutors wrote in the memo. “By flouting the select committee’s subpoena and its authority, the defendant exacerbated that assault. To this day, he continues to unlawfully withhold documents and testimony that stand to help the committee’s authorized investigation to get to the bottom of what led to January 6 and ascertain what steps must be taken to ensure that it never happens again. That cannot be tolerated.”
Because of all this, they argue, the minimum sentence of one month is “insufficient to account for, punish, and deter his criminal offenses.”
The select committee’s subpoena demanded documents and communications in 17 areas related to the Jan. 6 attack, from his communications with Trump and with the team of lawyers trying to litigate the election, to communication with the violent extremist groups before the Capitol riot.
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A sentence for Steve Bannon is just around the corner