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Trump’s Ex-Aide Bannon Convicted of Contempt of US Congress – SABC News

Steve Bannon, a key ally of former President Donald Trump and an influential figure on the American right, was convicted on Friday of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the investigative committee into last year’s attack on the US Capitol, a major victory for the Democrats -led panel.

A jury found Bannon, 68, guilty of two counts of refusing to provide testimony or documents to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 Trump supporter shooting, which attempted to validate the findings of the 2020 presidential election.

Each charge is punishable by 30 days to a year in prison and a fine of $100 to $100,000.

US District Judge Carl Nichols set the verdict for October 21.

The eight-man, four-woman jury’s verdict, after deliberating less than three hours, was the first successful indictment of contempt of Congress since 1974, when a judge found G. Gordon Liddy, a conspirator in the Watergate scandal that prompted the president to do so Richard Nixon’s resignation, guilty.

Bannon was a key adviser to Republican Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, then served as his chief White House strategist in 2017 before a falling out between the two that was later patched up.

Bannon has also played an instrumental role in right-wing media.

“We lost a battle here today. We are at war,” Bannon told reporters after the verdict.

Bannon castigated the “members of this show trial committee,” who he said “didn’t have the courage to come here and testify in court.” Bannon chose not to testify in his own defense.

His defense team suggested to jurors in Friday’s closing arguments that Bannon was a political target and painted the prosecution’s key witness as a politically motivated Democrat with ties to one of the prosecutors, including affiliation with the same book club.

Prosecutors said Bannon shows contempt for Congressional authority and must be held accountable for unlawful disregard.

Prosecutor Molly Gaston told jurors the attack was a “dark day” for America, adding, “There is nothing political about finding out why January 6th happened and making sure it never happens again.”

Evan Corcoran, one of Bannon’s attorneys, told the jury, “The question is, ‘Why? Why was Steve Bannon singled out?”

Following the verdict, David Schoen, one of Bannon’s attorneys, promised his client “a bulletproof appeal.”

The judge limited the scope of the case that Bannon’s team could bring.

Bannon was barred from arguing that he believed his communications with Trump were governed by a legal doctrine called executive privilege, which can keep certain presidential communications confidential, and was barred from arguing that he had relied on legal advice from an attorney to defend himself to refuse to comply.

The trial included two days of testimony. The prosecution questioned only two witnesses. The defense did not name any.

The conviction could strengthen the committee’s position as it seeks testimony and documents from others close to Trump.

Trump last year urged his staff not to cooperate and accused the committee of wanting to hurt him politically. The panel rejected several.

Another former Trump aide, Peter Navarro, was charged with contempt of Congress in June for refusing to appear for a committee affidavit. Navarro’s trial is scheduled for November.

The Justice Department chose not to indict Trump aides Mark Meadows and Daniel Scavino for defying the committee, despite a vote in the House of Representatives recommending it.

POSTPONED DATES

The prosecution’s key witness was Kristin Amerling, a senior committee official, who testified that Bannon scorned deadlines to respond to the September 2021 subpoena, did not seek an extension, and offered an invalid rationale for his resistance — Trump’s claim to executive privilege.

The Justice Department indicted Bannon last November after the Democrat-led House of Representatives voted to contempt him the previous month.

Bannon was separately accused in 2020 of defrauding donors for a private fundraiser to further Trump’s project to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. Trump pardoned Bannon before this case went to court.

A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and attacked police with batons, sledgehammers, flagpoles, tasers, chemical irritants, metal pipes, rocks, metal guardrails and other weapons in an attempt to block congressional attestation of his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

The committee said Bannon spoke with Trump at least twice the day before the attack and attended a planning meeting at a Washington hotel.

It played a clip of Bannon saying on his right-wing podcast the day before the attack that “all hell will break loose tomorrow”.

Bannon’s defense argued that he believed subpoena time limits were flexible and subject to negotiation.

In an 11-hour reversal with the upcoming trial, Bannon this month announced his willingness to testify at a committee public hearing, an offer prosecutors said didn’t change the fact he’d already broken the law.

Trump’s Ex-Aide Bannon Convicted of Contempt of US Congress – SABC News

Source link Trump’s Ex-Aide Bannon Convicted of Contempt of US Congress – SABC News

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