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17 Oct, 2022 16:11

US prosecutor wants prison term for ex-Trump aide

Officials recommended a custodial sentence and steep fine, citing Steve Bannon’s alleged lack of cooperation
US prosecutor wants prison term for ex-Trump aide

Former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon should serve six months in prison and pay $200,000 in fines for his conviction on contempt of Congress charges, federal prosecutors recommended in a Monday court filing.

The erstwhile presidential adviser was found guilty in July of two counts of contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Friday. 

Because Bannon “refused to disclose his financial records, instead insisting that he is willing and able to pay any fine imposed, including the maximum fine on each count of conviction,” he should be required to pay that maximum, the prosecutors wrote. The six-month custodial sentence they recommended is also the maximum allowed under sentencing guidelines for his conviction.

Describing the Capitol riot as an “assault” not only on the building itself but on “the rule of law upon which this country was built and through which it endures,” the prosecutors accused Bannon of making that violation worse. “By flouting the Select Committee’s subpoena and its authority, [he] exacerbated that assault,” they wrote.

Bannon had initially attempted to wriggle out of the select committee’s subpoena by asserting executive privilege, then offered to comply at the last minute only if the government would postpone and finally dismiss his trial, according to prosecutors. 

The conservative pundit has confirmed on his War Room podcast that he met up with Trump to talk “kill[ing] the Biden presidency” ahead of the “Stop the Steal” rally that degenerated into chaos on January 6, 2021. 

According to a Washington Post journalist, he was responsible for convincing Trump to “have a reckoning” on January 6. The pro-Trump rally was timed to coincide with the congressional certification of Biden’s victory. While that procedure is generally considered a formality, some factions sympathetic to Trump had hoped that Mike Pence, who was vice president at the time, could be convinced to refuse to certify the election. 

Bannon was also indicted last month on multiple charges related to the alleged theft of money from his “We Build the Wall,” a crowdfunded project to finish Trump’s promised barrier along the US’ southern border. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include two felony counts of money laundering, two felony counts of conspiracy, and one count of fraud. He was previously pardoned from similar charges by the former president, but the current charges were filed in state, not federal court, and presidential pardons do not apply.