Trump ally Steve Bannon loses appeal on contempt conviction in effort to stay out of prison

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Former White House official Steve Bannon‘s appeal of his contempt of Congress conviction was denied Friday, meaning he will still have to serve jail time for ignoring a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

In a 20-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a three-body panel, said granting Bannon’s appeal would “hamstring Congress’s investigatory authority.”

Bannon claimed he acted on the advice of his legal team and did not intend to break the law. Judge Bradley Garcia wrote that acting on “advice of counsel” defense is “no defense at all.”


Steve Bannon in court

Steve Bannon appears in court in New York on Jan. 12, 2023. On Friday, a federal appeals court has upheld the criminal conviction of Donald Trump’s longtime ally for defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“As both this court and the Supreme Court have repeatedly explained, a contrary rule would contravene the text of the contempt statute and hamstring Congress’s investigatory authority,” Garcia wrote. “Because we have no basis to depart from that binding precedent, and because none of Bannon’s other challenges to his convictions have merit, we affirm.”

Bannon, 70, was sentenced to four months in prison in October 2022, and a $6,500 fine for ignoring the congressional subpoena. 

“I want to say one thing — I respect the judge, the sentence he came down with today is his decision. I’ve been totally respectful to this entire process on the legal side,” Bannon said after the sentencing.

Bannon will appeal Friday’s ruling, his attorney, David Schoen, told Fox News Digital. 


Steve Bannon in court

Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Donald Trump, appears in Manhattan Supreme Court. (Curtis Means-Pool/Getty Images)

“There are many fundamentally important constitutional issues at stake in this case,” Schoen said in a statement. “Today’s decision is wrong as a matter of law, and it reflects a very dangerous view of the threshold for criminal liability for any defendant in our country and for future political abuses of the congressional hearing process.”

Schoen noted that Bannon’s attorney at the time he received the subpoena, Robert Costello, advised his client that he was not permitted, as a matter of law, in any way to respond to the notice, saying executive privilege had been raised and that it was not his privilege to waive it. Costello wrote the committee to inform them that Bannon would comply if the panel worked out any privilege issues with former President Trump or if a court ordered him to comply, Schoen said. 

“In America, we do not criminally prosecute, let alone convict and send to prison people who not only don’t believe their conduct to be wrongful or in violation of the law, but, as in this case, people who follow the advice of their lawyers who tell them that the law does not permit them to comply with a congressional subpoena when executive privilege has been invoked,” Schoen said.

Steve Bannon leaves courthouse

Steve Bannon, former adviser to Donald Trump, waves to members of the media as he departs federal court in Washington, D.C. (Craig Hudson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


Other officials who served under Trump have reported to prison. Former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro began his four-month sentence for contempt of Congress at a Miami correctional facility in March. 

“I will walk proudly in there to do my time,” Navarro said during a press conference before turning himself in. “I will gather strength from this: Donald John Trump is the nominee.”

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