The far-right Steve Bannon, who was an adviser to former US President Donald Trump (2017-2021), was found guilty this Friday of contempt of Congress after refusing to appear before the committee investigating the January 6, 2021 assault on Capitol Hill. His trial began on Monday and the established sentence has not yet been specified.
Bannon, 68, had been facing a criminal charge since November 2021 for his refusal to appear before that committee and another for not wanting to deliver documents. Each charge can carry between 30 days and a year in prison, as well as a fine of up to $100,000.
The committee wanted him to testify because they believe he had some prior knowledge about what was going to happen on January 6, when Congress was planning to certify the electoral victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the November 2020 presidential elections and Trump had called a protest near from the White House.
Bannon spoke with Trump at least twice on the eve of the attack and, that same January 5, assured in his podcast that the next day “all hell” was going to be unleashed. Although at first he wanted to avail himself of the “executive privilege”, which protects the communications of a president with his team, the committee had already said in October 2021 that the former adviser was not covered by that protection since at the time of the attack he did not occupy any public charge.
The trial in a federal court in the District of Columbia, where Washington is located, began this week with the selection of the jury and this same Friday the deliberations took place after the defense and the prosecution presented the final arguments.
Bannon’s attorney, Evan Corcoran, again argued that his client’s subpoena was illegitimate and politically motivated. “He did not intentionally deny breaking the subpoena, not at all. He did not intentionally reject not complying with anything, ”said the lawyer, who also tried to raise suspicions against the accusation.
Corcoran sought to link the prosecutor, Molly Gaston, with one of the main witnesses for the prosecution, Kristin Amerling, chief lawyer of the January 6 committee, assuring that 15 years ago they worked together in Congress and belonged to the same book club. The verdict is known one day after the eighth and last session, until September, of the series of public interrogations that the committee began a month ago. The focus was on the 187 minutes that passed since Trump harangued the crowd to make themselves heard in the Capitol until at 4:17 p.m. that afternoon he posted a video on Twitter where he told them for the first time that they should leave the seat of Congress.
The committee proved that Trump decided not to stop the assault quickly because it suited him and instead spent the afternoon watching it on conservative Fox News television, ignoring pleas from his aides and family for him to intercede.