Steve Bannon displayed such intentional contempt for the rule of law in defying a subpoena from the January 6 Committee that he deserves a near-maximum sentence behind bars, the DOJ argued to a federal judge on Monday.
Federal prosecutors want Bannon sentenced to six months in jail for refusing to comply with a subpoena issued in 2021 by the January 6 Committee.
The DOJ described Bannon throughout as mocking both the committee and the rule of law in his response to the subpoena, and accused him of trying to cut a last-minute deal with the panel in which he would provide some testimony in exchange for the DOJ calling off its prosecution.
Throughout, prosecutors said, Bannon has used his podcast War Room to keep his bit going: suggesting that he’s a victim of persecution by an illegitimate regime.
“Through his public platforms, the Defendant has used hyperbolic and sometimes violent rhetoric to disparage the Committee’s investigation, personally attack the Committee’s members, and ridicule the criminal justice system,” prosecutors wrote in the filings. “The Defendant’s statements prove that his contempt was not aimed at protecting executive privilege or the Constitution, rather it was aimed at undermining the Committee’s efforts to investigate an historic attack on government.”
In another filing on Monday, Bannon asked the judge to issue a sentence limited to probation. He also wants whatever sentence he receives to be automatically stayed pending appeal.
Bannon has made performative gestures of contempt his stock in trade. Prosecutors describe him in the filing as using the subpoena — and its aftermath — as a way to burnish his public image on the MAGA far-right, engaging with the Committee only as a means to “engineer dismissal of his criminal prosecution.”
“When his quid pro quo attempt failed, the Defendant made no further attempt at cooperation with the Committee — speaking volumes about his bad faith,” prosecutors wrote.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols for the District of Columbia will rule on Bannon’s sentencing on Friday.
The typical range for contempt of Congress — on which Bannon was convicted of two counts — goes from one month to six months. Prosecutors have asked for the upper end of that range.
They also said that Bannon refused to cooperate with the financial investigation portion of the pre-sentencing investigation, instead telling the government that he would be capable of paying the maximum fine.
The government recommended that Bannon pay $200,000, describing it as his “insistence on paying the maximum fine rather than cooperate with the Probation Office’s routine pre-sentencing financial investigation.”
After the subpoena was first issued, Bannon — a private citizen since 2017 — claimed that he couldn’t cooperate with the committee due to executive privilege issues.
But even after Trump went through the act of waiving that, the government noted, Bannon still refused to cooperate — even though the “only purported barrier to his compliance” had evaporated.
Prosecutors described it as “sustained, bad-faith contempt of Congress” — an effort to show “disregard” for the rule of law.
It’s a portrait of self-conscious disobedience, with Bannon apparently taking every opportunity available to him to broadcast the notion that he faces an illegitimate government.
That was, Bannon himself said before January 6, one of the purposes of the insurrection: to kill the Biden presidency “in the crib.”
Read the DOJ’s filing here: