Steve Bannon could soon go to jail after appeal fails

  • By Holly Honderich
  • in washington

image Source, getty images

image Caption, Steve Bannon said he was following legal advice when refusing to testify before Congress

A federal appeals court has upheld the criminal conviction of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

After years of legal wrangling, the decision could soon send Bannon, 70, to prison.

He was convicted of contempt of Congress in 2022 for refusing to provide testimony or documents to the committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot.

Bannon's lawyer said he would file a new appeal, adding that “important constitutional issues are at stake”.

Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $6,500 (£5,200).

But the right-wing podcaster, who has denied any criminal wrongdoing, was able to stay out of jail on bond while challenging his conviction.

Bannon's lawyers have called the case politically motivated and said he was attempting to negotiate rather than ignore the committee's subpoena.

Bannon himself has said he was following legal advice when he refused to testify before the House committee investigating the 2021 attack, which was intended to prevent Congress from certifying that Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidential election. Had won the election.

In a unanimous decision, the US DC Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Bannon's argument, saying it was “contrary to established law”.

“This exact ‘advice of counsel’ defense is not a defense at all,” Biden-appointed Judge Bradley Garcia wrote on behalf of the court, a panel that also included a Trump appointee and an Obama appointee.

Bannon was not ordered to begin his four-month term immediately. Now he has seven days to file a second appeal.

His attorney David Schon said he would ask the 11-member D.C. appeals court to hear the case.

Mr Schoen argued that Donald Trump had invoked executive privilege – a legal concept that allows presidents to keep certain communications private – and that Bannon would be breaking the law if he testified before Congress.

Bannon's legal team advised him, Mr. Schoen said, “in no uncertain terms that he was not permitted under the law to respond to the subpoena in any way”.

Peter Navarro, another senior Trump aide, was sent to prison in March after being convicted of contempt of Congress.

In a 2021 memoir – In Trump Time – Navarro said he was the architect of the strategy to challenge the 2020 election results that made Joe Biden president.

Bannon was a key player in Mr Trump's successful 2016 election campaign and later took on the role of chief strategist in the White House.

He left that position in August 2017 after a violent far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Even after his departure, the combative podcaster was considered a top aide to Mr Trump.

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