On Friday, former White House advisor Steve Bannon was found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to appear before and provide documents to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
Judge Carl J. Nichols will sentence Bannon on Oct. 21, though Bannon has already said he will attempt to appeal the verdict. Bannon faces fines, plus a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail and a maximum sentence of up to one year behind bars.
Nichols, a Trump appointee, has so far not given Bannon an easy time in this case, though the outcome has felt somewhat preordained. Bannon was indicted for his failure to comply with a lawful Congressional subpoena in November.
Bannon’s case was also very straightforward: He violated the law that says if Congress subpoenas you, you have to show up and testify (even if during that testimony you claim exemptions from answering certain questions, such as attorney-client privilege or pleading the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination). Bannon refused to even show up. It was pretty open and shut.
Indeed, the prosecution finished its case in a matter of hours, only calling two witnesses, and Bannon didn’t even put on a defense. Instead, during closing arguments his legal team was left to try out absurd arguments that were quickly shot down by the judge, such as claiming that Jan. 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson’s signature on the subpoena may have been “forged” and that Bannon deserved “the benefit of the doubt.”
As such, the jury deliberated for less than three hours before returning a verdict of guilty on both counts. There’s no reason to think things will go any differently with his appeal.
After Congress held Bannon in contempt last fall, the question was whether or not Attorney General Merrick Garland would have the fortitude to enforce the law. In other contempt cases, specifically with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, Garland has declined to indict despite similar criminal referrals from Congress. He has, however, indicted former Trump advisor Peter Navarro for contempt along with Bannon. Which means the real lingering question—aside from Bannon’s sentence—is how quickly a similar jury will find Navarro guilty.