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22 Jul, 2022 20:34

Former Trump strategist found guilty

Steve Bannon has been convicted for defying the January 6 Committee
Former Trump strategist found guilty

A jury in Washington, DC has found Steve Bannon guilty of contempt of Congrss for refusing a subpoena to testify before the Democrat-led committee investigating the pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill last January. The defendant called the proceedings against him a “show trial.”

Bannon was convicted on Friday of two misdemeanor counts, with the jury taking three hours to reach its verdict. Bannon’s lawyers did not mount a defense, and Bannon himself smiled as the verdict was read to him, CNN reported.

Bannon was charged by a grand jury last November after he failed to produce documents requested by the January 6 Committee, a group of Democrat and anti-Trump Republican representatives searching for evidence of former President Donald Trump’s culpability in the Capitol Hill riot, which they have termed an “insurrection.” Bannon also failed to appear before the committee. 

Bannon had insisted that his conversations with Trump in the runup to the riot were covered by Trump’s executive privilege, and his legal team argued that he was actively engaged in negotiations with the committee over the documents requested. 

Trump himself has derided the January 6 Committee as “political hacks,” and in a speech outside the courtroom earlier this week, Bannon mocked the “show trial” against him. With the US government’s only witnesses against him a House staffer and an FBI agent who commented on his social media posts, Bannon condemned the committee’s members for not having “the guts and the courage to show up here and say exactly why [I committed a] crime … they should be here today.”

Prosecutors argued that the case was straightforward. “When it came down to it, he did not want to recognize Congress’s authority or play by the government’s rules,” Assistant US Attorney Molly Gaston said in her closing statement to the jury.

Bannon is not the only associate of Trump to defy the committee’s subpoenas. Peter Navarro, an economic advisor to Trump’s campaign and trade official in the White House, is facing contempt charges of his own this November, while former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows declined to appear before the committee, but was not charged.

A former investment banker and co-founder of Breitbart News, Bannon became the CEO of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and went on to serve as senior counselor to Trump for the first eight months of the presidency. He was convicted of fraud in 2020, pardoned by Trump in 2021, and currently hosts a podcast.