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Steve Bannon files not guilty plea ahead of court appearance on contempt charges

Bannon is charged with two counts of contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Image: Former Trump Administration White House advisor Steve Bannon departs U.S. District Court after an appearance on Nov. 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Steve Bannon after an appearance in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday.Win McNamee / Getty Images

Steve Bannon, who was a top adviser to former President Donald Trump, filed a motion Wednesday pleading not guilty to charges of contempt of Congress.

"I do hereby waive formal arraignment and enter my plea of NOT GUILTY to the indictment," Bannon said in the filing. The motion still has to be signed off on by the judge hearing the case.

The move is unusual, because Bannon, 67, is still expected to attend a conference in the case before the judge on Thursday.

In the filing, Bannon said the request obviates "the need to conduct an arraignment during the virtual status conference scheduled for November 18, 2021, which I will attend with my attorneys."

Bannon's lawyer, David Schoen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He told CNBC that the early plea would "help make the process more efficient."

A federal grand jury indicted Bannon last week on two counts of contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas and refusing to answer questions from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

One of the counts is for refusing to appear for a deposition to answer questions about what he knew about the planning for the riot, and the other is for declining to produce documents requested by the committee. Bannon's attorneys have said he did so to honor the wishes of Trump, who planned to invoke executive privilege.

The committee has contended that executive privilege should not extend to Bannon, because he was not working for the White House at the time of the riot, and that he should have at least appeared for questioning and told the panel what documents are in his control.

If he is convicted, Bannon could face up to a year behind bars and a fine of up to $100,000.

He sounded a defiant note before he surrendered to federal authorities Monday, declaring, "We're taking down the Biden regime."

"They took on the wrong guy this time," he said.