WASHINGTON — Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was sentenced Friday to serve four months behind bars after defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The judge allowed Bannon to stay free pending appeal and also imposed a fine of $6,500 as part of the sentence. Bannon was convicted in July of two counts of contempt of Congress: one for refusing to sit for a deposition and the other for refusing to provide documents.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols handed down the sentence after saying the law was clear that contempt of Congress is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of at least one month behind bars. Bannon’s lawyers had argued the judge could’ve sentenced him to probation instead.
The House panel had sought Bannon’s testimony over his involvement in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Bannon has yet to testify or provide any documents to the committee, prosecutors wrote.
Prosecutors argued Bannon, 68, deserved the longer sentence because he had pursued a “bad faith strategy” and his public statements disparaging the committee itself made it clear he wanted to undermine their effort to get to the bottom of the violent attack and keep anything like it from happening again.
Prosecutors asked the judge in his case to impose a hefty sentence of six months in jail, while Bannon’s lawyers have argued their client deserves a sentence of probation. The statutes for contempt of Congress each carry a minimum sentence of 30 days behind bars, but Bannon’s lawyers argue the judge could just sentence him to probation and not send him to jail.
The defense, meanwhile, said he wasn’t acting in bad faith, but trying to avoid running afoul of executive privilege objections Trump had raised when Bannon was first served with a committee subpoena last year. The onetime presidential adviser said he wanted to a Trump lawyer in the room, but the committee wouldn’t allow it.
Many other former White House aides have testified with only their own counsel. Bannon had been fired from the White House in 2017 and was a private citizen when he was consulting with the then-president before the riot.
Bannon also pointed out that he had offered to testify after Trump waived executive privilege. But that was after the contempt charges were filed, and prosecutors say he would only agree to give the deposition if the case was dropped.
Prosecutors have pushed for the maximum fine, saying Bannon had refused to answer routine questions about his income and insisted he could pay whatever the judge imposed.