Steve Bannon is going to prison for four months.
The infamous, triple-shirted, right-wing political provocateur was sentenced Friday for defying the Congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. He was also fined $6,500.
Bannon, 68, was convicted of two counts of contempt of Congress during a one-week trial earlier this year for refusing to comply with subpoenas for documents and evidence. Now, he’s become just the latest high-profile member of former President Donald Trump’s inner circle to catch a criminal conviction and a prison sentence.
Bannon faced a maximum possible two years under the law. Prosecutors had asked the judge for six months, which was the longest sentence they could request in accordance with federal sentencing guideline calculations that account for the broader circumstances of the case. Bannon’s attorneys had asked Judge Carl Nichols for probation.
Bannon will not have to start his sentence until he finishes appealing the sentence, the judge ruled.
Bannon struck a defiant pose outside the Washington D.C. courthouse moments before receiving his sentence. He arrived wearing at least two shirt collars, no tie, and a worn, green jacket. Hecklers shouted “traitor” and “fascist.”
“How you doin’, brother!,” Bannon retorted, before stepping to a row of microphones and slamming the “illegitimate regime” of President Joe Biden and, oddly, taking a swipe at the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP.
“Remember, take down the CCP! Thank you,” Bannon said.
Bannon’s forthcoming stint in prison could be just the start of a new life behind bars for the longtime Trump ally, however. That’s because Bannon’s also defending himself in a much more serious financial fraud case in New York, in which he’s accused of ripping off Trump supporters who donated funds for an allegedly-sham charity to build a private wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the New York case, Bannon faces as much as 15 years of incarceration for just the most serious of his five alleged felonies.
Bannon has pleaded not guilty, and dismissed the fraud case as politically-motivated.
But if that New York case goes as poorly as his recent fight with federal prosecutors in D.C., he could be in big trouble.
Bannon’s boisterous behavior in the D.C. case motivated prosecutors to urge the judge to give him the harshest sentence available under the sentencing guidelines.
But the judge blocked those attempts, and the jury took barely an afternoon to find him guilty.
In a blistering sentencing memo to Nichols last Monday, the feds slammed Bannon’s “bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt,” including the time he told the Department of Justice to “suck on it.”
Bannon’s lawyer, David Schoen, told Nichols the combative political strategist should be praised as an American hero for defying the committee, rather than sent to prison.
Schoen insisted Bannon had believed he could not comply with the subpoena because Trump had asserted executive privilege, the principle that allows some White House communications to be held secret.
“A more egregious contempt of Congress would have been to say, ‘Screw you congress! Take your subpoena and shove it!,’” Schoen said, raising his voice.
Trump attorney Justin Clark told prosecutors last summer that Trump never officially invoked executive privilege in Bannon’s case, and the judge didn’t allow Bannon to raise that argument at his trial.
Schoen blasted Clark in bizarrely personal terms.
“He is nothing but a thug,” Schoen thundered. “I wouldn’t believe a thing he says! He’s lied to me personally! He’s ripped me off personally!”
Schoen concluded: “It doesn’t really matter what Clark claims now.”
The upshot, Schoen said, was that Bannon should be heralded as a defender of executive privilege, rather than imprisoned for flagrantly defying Congress’ attempt to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection. Bannon famously predicted, one day before the lethal riot, that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
Prosecutors slammed Bannon’s conduct in their pre-sentencing memo.
“The Committee sought documents and testimony from the Defendant relevant to a matter of national importance: the circumstances that led to a violent attack on the Capitol and disruption of the peaceful transfer of power. In response, the Defendant flouted the Committee's authority and ignored the subpoena's demands," prosecutors wrote.
During the trial, Bannon’s attorneys had tried to raise doubts about whether the deadline for the subpoenas was firmly set in mid-October 2021, even though that was exactly what the documents said.
Bannon is expected to appeal the verdict. Bannon expects to argue that he wasn’t allowed to present evidence that his lawyer had advised him not to comply with the subpoenas because he thought Trump had asserted executive privilege, a legal principle that allows the White House to keep some information secret, the Guardian reported on Thursday.