What to know about Steve Bannon's sentencing hearing:
- Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was sentenced to 4 months behind bars and a $6,500 fine in D.C. federal court Friday
- The judge will allow Bannon to appeal before serving that sentence
- Bannon was convicted in July on two contempt of Congress charges for ignoring subpoenas from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot
- Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Bannon to 6 months in jail with a $200,000 fine.
- Bannon is also facing trial in New York for allegedly defrauding donors in the "We Build The Wall" effort.
Bannon defends himself outside court after sentencing
Bannon defended his decision not to comply with the Jan. 6 committee's subpoena and said the notion that he thinks he is above the law "is an absolute and total lie."
Speaking outside the courthouse following his sentencing, the former Trump adviser said that there will be "multiple areas of appeal" by his legal team.
"On November 8, they're gonna have a judgment on the illegitimate Biden regime and quite frankly, and quite frankly, that Nancy Pelosi and the entire committee, and we know which way that’s going," Bannon said. "Either they’ve already been turfed out, like Liz Cheney, right? Or have quit like Kinzinger and other Democrats, or they’re about to be beaten like Luria and others, or they will lose their power and becoming a minority."
He continued, "This is democracy. The American people are weighing and measuring what went on with the Justice Department and how they comported themselves."
Bannon also said if the GOP takes the majority in the House, Attorney General Merrick Garland "will end up being the first attorney general that’s brought up on charges of impeachment and he will be removed from office."
MAGA world standing with Bannon
As the judge prepared to hand down Bannon's sentence, some notable figures in MAGA world took to social media to show their support for the former Trump strategist.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Judicial Watch head Tom Fitton, right-wing activist Jack Posobiec and former New York City police commissioner and Trump pardon recipient Bernie Kerik all took to Twitter to post "I stand with Steve Bannon."
Judge will allow Bannon to appeal before serving sentence
Nichols said that if Bannon files a timely appeal, he will issue an order suspending the prison sentence until the appeals process plays out.
Steve Bannon sentenced to four months
Bannon was sentenced to four months in federal prison along with a $6,500 fine.
Judge says 'others must be deterred from committing similar crimes'
Nichols said that while Bannon poses a "very small risk of recidivism with regard to congressional subpoenas," there was a need to remind the public to cooperate with congressional investigations.
"Others must be deterred from committing similar crimes," Nichols said.
Nichols says Jan. 6 committee had good reason to investigate Jan. 6
Nichols is preparing to impose Bannon's sentence, reiterating the seriousness of the attack on the U.S. Capitol and the need of Congress to investigate it.
“Mr. Bannon has not produced a single document," Nichols said. He noted Bannon had not been employed in the executive branch for several years and so was unlikely to possess information that would be covered by executive privilege.
"Mr. Bannon did not completely ignore the fact that he had received a subpoena," and while his lawyer's advice may have been overly aggressive, he did appear to be following his lawyer's advice, the judge said.
Nichols also credited Bannon's time in the U.S. Navy.
Busy day in D.C. courts
Nichols back on the bench to impose Bannon's sentence
Nichols just returned to the bench to impose Bannon's sentence on his conviction on two counts of contempt of Congress.
No comments from Bannon
Bannon declined to make a comment before the judge imposes his sentence, saying his lawyers had spoken for him.
The court recessed around 10:30 ET. Nichols will return to the bench shortly after to impose the sentence.
Bannon lawyer says Bannon didn't say 'Screw you, Congress'
Schoen told Nichols that Bannon didn't say "Screw you Congress, take your subpoena and shove it!," but just followed what he believed was an invocation of executive privilege by the former president.
Bannon did, however, actually say "suck on it" on his podcast following his conviction.
Judge questions DOJ on Jan. 6 committee's subpoena
Nichols questioned Cooney on why the Jan. 6 committee didn’t go to court to get an order requiring Bannon to comply with the subpoena, a solution proposed by Bannon.
“The fact that there was at least one tool in the committee’s arsenal that it didn’t invoke, why isn’t that relevant?” Nichols asked.
Cooney said that isn’t relevant in this case because the criminal contempt of Congress statute is intended to punish noncompliance, not to compel compliance.
"He had no interest in genuine compliance,” Cooney said. "He had an interest in making a public spectacle of the committee’s hearings."
All we’re asking for is for Bannon to be "treated like every other citizen," Cooney said.
Lawyer says Bannon 'should make no apology'
Schoen, who previously represented Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, argued that Bannon should not apologize for his actions.
He claimed Bannon was simply following the advice of counsel and respecting a purported claim of executive privilege from Trump — even though the former president no longer had the ability to invoke that privilege in the way current presidents do, and there’s no contemporaneous evidence that Trump had claimed to do so after Bannon was subpoenaed.
Bannon had not been in the executive branch for years; he was only in the White House for the first seven months of Trump’s presidency.
“Quite frankly, Mr. Bannon should make no apology,” Schoen said, adding, "No American should make an apology for the way Mr. Bannon proceeded in this case.”
“There is nothing here to deter. There is nothing here to punish,” he said.
Schoen also railed against the Jan. 6 committee, saying it had no interest in actually investigating what happened on Jan. 6.
“Mr. Bannon stands for the Constitution,” he said.
DOJ argues for $200,000 fine: Bannon is 'not above the law'
Steve Bannon should pay a fine of $200,000 because of his "contempt for the criminal justice system, his contempt for law, and his contempt for Congress," Assistant U.S. Attorney J.P. Cooney argued.
Cooney said that since Bannon's own sentencing memo states that he was willing to pay any fine, and he refused to cooperate with the probation office, he should get the maximum fine.
"I read that as an invitation to the court to impose the maximum fine," Cooney said, saying Bannon had thumbed his nose at the government.
Bannon "is not above the law," Cooney argued.
Bannon lawyer Evan Corcoran said, however, that the statement in their memo was not an invitation for Nichols to impose the maximum fine, but instead was a timesaver so that the probation office wouldn’t have to conduct a financial investigation of Bannon.
Bannon will not get credit for acceptance of responsibility
Nichols has rejected Bannon's request to get credit for acceptance of responsibility, which would have lowered his sentence. Typically, only parties who plead guilty — rather than go to trial, as Bannon did — get credit for acceptance of responsibility.
Nichols said he agrees with the government that Bannon has not expressed remorse and continues to attack the Jan. 6 select committee.
“The government further argues that Mr. Bannon has not expressed remorse and has attacked the select committee at every turn. On this point I agree with the government,” Nichols says. “He has expressed no remorse for his actions.”
Bannon's team had argued that Bannon should get credit for accepting responsibility even though he went to trial because, according to his sentencing memo, “Mr. Bannon has never contested the facts underlying his conviction" and only argued over the law, Bannon's team argued.
Judge says Bannon's crimes are subject to a one-month minimum prison sentence
In a setback for Bannon, Nichols said that the law is clear that contempt of Congress is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of at least one month of incarceration.
"I believe the statute is clear on that point," Nichols said. He also believes there's a mandatory maximum of 12 months, but that the guidelines range is between one month and six months of incarceration.
Bannon's lawyer, David Schoen, said they continued to believe that there was no mandatory minimum and that Bannon could be sentenced to a period of probation.
"You've made that argument. ... I've rejected it," Nichols said.
Judge Nichols has laid out how he will proceed this morning:
The court is currently hearing objections from Bannon to the pre-sentence report. The rest of the proceedings will go as follows:
- Nichols will explain the sentencing guidelines.
- He will then hear arguments from both parties
- Bannon will be allowed to make a statement if he wants (not yet clear if he will speak.)
- Nichols will recess to consider the arguments
- Nichols will read the sentence.
Evan Corcoran, Bannon lawyer, is in the courtroom
Evan Corcoran, one of Bannon's attorneys who has also represented former President Donald Trump, is in court for Bannon's sentencing.
The government said in their sentencing memo that Corcoran reached out to the House Jan. 6 committee just before Bannon's trial to offer to testify and told committee counsel "that the Defendant’s newfound cooperative spirit had strings attached—namely, that it would require that the Committee and the Government to agree that if the Defendant complied with the subpoena, the Government would delay and ultimately dismiss his trial."
Prosecutors decried Bannon 'stunt'
Prosecutors have noted in the past that Trump lawyer Justin Clark had repeatedly told Bannon and his attorney that they were taking their executive privilege claims too far. “Mr. Clark never ‘instructed, directed, or implied’ that the defendant should refuse to appear for his deposition,” prosecutors said.
The Justice Department has also pointed to Bannon’s 11th hour offer to cooperate with the committee and hand over documents just before his trial was set to start, claiming Trump had waived his executive privilege.
Prosecutors have called the move “a hollow gesture” and said when Bannon realized the “stunt would not prevent his trial, the defendant’s cooperative spirit vanished. Despite the removal of the only purported barrier to his compliance, to this day the defendant has not produced a single document to the committee or appeared for testimony.”
Bannon has maintained that he was following his lawyers’ advice throughout and that his challenges to the government’s case “were legally and constitutionally based.” He has asked that the judge sentence him probation — and then stay the sentence while he appeals his conviction.
Court in session
Court is in session around 9 a.m. ET, with Judge Carl Nichols on the bench.
Bannon arrives to court
Bannon arrived to federal court just after 8:30 a.m. ET and made a short statement. He was surrounded by his security team and protestors who were yelling "traitor" and "fascist" at him.
"I want to thank all you guys for coming. Remember this illegitimate regime, their judgment day is on 8th [of] November when the Biden adminstration ends," he said.
What the Jan. 6 committee wanted to hear from Bannon
A top White House aide for the first seven months of the Trump administration, Bannon provided informal advice to Trump and his team after the 2020 election and ahead of the violence at the U.S. Capitol.
The committee wanted him to testify and turn over documents about his contacts with the White House and pointed to comments he made on his podcast the day before the riot as an example of why he should answer questions.
“It’s not going to happen like you think it’s going to happen, OK? It’s going to be quite extraordinarily different,” Bannon said. “All I can say is, strap in. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. ... So many people said, ‘Man, if I was in a revolution, I would be in Washington.’ Well, this is your time in history.”
Bannon contended he shouldn’t have to comply with the subpoenas because his conversations with Trump were protected by executive privilege. The committee countered that executive privilege should not extend to Bannon, because he was not working for the White House at the time. The panel also contended that he should have at least appeared for questioning and told the panel what documents are in his control.
Former Trump aide Navarro also faces trial for contempt
Former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro has also been charged with criminal contempt of Congress for ignoring the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoenas. He’s pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial on Nov. 17.
The Jan. 6 committee also referred former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino, Meadows' deputy, for contempt of Congress, but the Justice Department declined to take action.
This isn't the end of Bannon's legal troubles
Bannon has more legal problems on the horizon. He’s scheduled to stand trial in November of next year for allegedly defrauding donors who were giving money to build a wall at the southern U.S. border. He’s pleaded not guilty in that case, which was brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office in New York.
Prosecutors asked for 6-month sentence, said Bannon 'expressed no remorse'
The Justice Department last week urged the judge to hand down a sentence of six months, which prosecutors said was at the high end of the sentencing guidelines, given his conduct throughout the case.
“The nature and circumstances of the offense support a top-end guidelines sentence because a person could have shown no greater contempt than the Defendant did in his defiance of the committee’s subpoena," their filing said.
“The defendant has expressed no remorse for his conduct and attacked others at every turn,” the prosecutors added. They also asked that the judge fine Bannon $200,000 for his confuct.
“From the time he was initially subpoenaed, the defendant has shown that his true reasons for total noncompliance have nothing to do with his purported respect for the Constitution, the rule of law, or executive privilege, and everything to do with his personal disdain for the members of Congress sitting on the committee and their effort to investigate the attack on our country’s peaceful transfer of power,” the prosecutors wrote.
Bannon’s lawyers argued that he should get only probation. Bannon, they said, “has not been convicted of a violent crime, he has no other criminal convictions, and he has strong ties to the D.C. area.” They also asked that Bannon be allowed to remain free until his lawyers are able to appeal the sentence.
Bannon faces sentencing in contempt of Congress case
Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon is likely facing at least a month behind bars when he’s sentenced Friday in a Washington, D.C., federal court for criminal contempt of Congress.
Bannon, 68, was convicted in July on two contempt of Congress charges for ignoring subpoenas from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot. Prosecutors have asked Judge Carl Nichols to sentence him to six months behind bars — half of the maximum of their proposed concurrent sentence for the two counts — and fine him $200,000 for “his sustained, bad-faith contempt of Congress.”
Bannon’s attorneys countered that his conviction was “unconstitutional” and asked the judge to sentence him to probation, which would be less than the statutory minimum of one month.