Federal prosecutors want Steve Bannon, a former top adviser to former President Donald Trump, to be sentenced to six months in prison for contempt of Congress, according to a recommendation filed Monday.
In addition to serving time, the government is seeking $200,000 in fines.
“For his sustained, bad-faith contempt of Congress, the Defendant should be sentenced to six months’ imprisonment – the top end of the Sentencing Guidelines’ range – and fined $200,000 – based on his insistence on paying the maximum fine rather than cooperate with the Probation Office’s routine pre-sentencing financial investigation,” prosecutors wrote in their court filing on Monday.
They said he did not fully comply with the probation office in their pre-sentencing investigation, writing that Bannon “freely answered questions about his family, professional life, personal background, and health. But the Defendant refused to disclose his financial records, instead insisting that he is willing and able to pay any fine imposed, including the maximum fine on each count of conviction.”
Prosecutors added: “The rioters who overran the Capitol on January 6 did not just attack a building – they assaulted the rule of law upon which this country was built and through which it endures. By flouting the Select Committee’s subpoena and its authority, the Defendant exacerbated that assault.”
Bannon was found guilty by a jury in July of two counts of contempt of Congress. His sentencing is set for Friday.
Bannon is seeking probation and is asking for the sentencing to be delayed pending his appeal.
“The ear of a sentencing judge listens for the note of contrition. Someone was convicted. Did they learn their lesson? This case requires something more. It involves larger themes that are important to every American,” Bannon’s lawyers wrote in a court filing on Monday.
“Should a person who has spent a lifetime listening to experts – as a naval officer, investment banker, corporate executive, and Presidential advisor – be jailed for relying on the advice of his lawyers? Should a person be jailed where the prosecutor declined to prosecute others who were similarly situated – with the only difference being that this person uses their voice to express strongly held political views? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then a sentence of probation is warranted.”
Prosecutors argued that once subpoenaed, Bannon’s lawyer sought an attorney for the former president to seek an assertion of executive privilege, “even though executive privilege could not possibly permit the Defendant’s total noncompliance.”
Bannon, the government said, received a letter saying privilege may be of issue but that the letter did not direct any specific document to be withheld because Trump’s attorney was not certain there were any privileged documents or information at all. The government added the former president “did not believe the Defendant had immunity from testimony.”
Prosecutors also revealed that before Bannon’s trial this summer, a last-minute offer to comply with the committee subpoena “had strings attached.”
“Namely, that it would require the committee and the Government to agree that if the Defendant complied with the subpoena, the Government would delay and ultimately dismiss his trial,” according to the new filing. The government got the information from an interview with a committee staffer on October 7.
Bannon sought Jan. 6 committee’s help in last-minute attempt to delay contempt trial
A lawyer for Bannon reached out to the January 6 committee just before Bannon’s contempt of Congress trial this summer seeking to convince the congressional committee to help delay and ultimately dismiss the trial, prosecutors said in the sentencing memo.
Bannon lawyer Evan Corcoran spoke to the committee’s top investigator, Tim Heaphy, asking whether the committee would join with Bannon’s lawyer in a request to dismiss the contempt trial if Bannon would comply with the panel’s subpoena by providing documents and testimony, Heaphy told FBI investigators in a voluntary interview last week.
Heaphy responded that Bannon’s team should reach out to the prosecutors, while declining to agree to join any effort.
“My takeaway is that Bannon knows that this proposal for a continuance and ultimate dismissal of his trial is likely a non-starter, which prompted him to call us to explore support as leverage,” Heaphy wrote in an email to House staff that was included in the sentencing memo. “I expect that DOJ will not be receptive to this proposal, as he is guilty of the charged crime and cannot cure his culpability with subsequent compliance with the subpoena.”
Prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memo that Bannon’s lawyer “made clear that the Defendant’s newfound cooperative spirit had strings attached.”
“When his quid pro quo attempt failed, the Defendant made no further attempt at cooperation with the Committee – speaking volumes about his bad faith,” the Justice Department wrote.
The sentencing memo also provided new detail about Bannon lawyer Robert Costello’s interactions with Trump’s counsel, Justin Clark, last year. Costello had written to the committee claiming that Trump was invoking executive privilege over Bannon’s testimony, citing a letter from Clark.
But Clark had told Costello that the letter did not claim executive privilege for Bannon. Clark told federal investigators he was “pissed” that Bannon’s lawyer had “completely misrepresented” to the committee what Clark had told him, federal prosecutors said in the sentencing memo.
Clark wrote in an October 2021 email to Costello that the letter he had sent “didn’t indicate that we believe there is immunity from testimony for your client. As I indicated to you the other day, we don’t believe there is. Now, you may have made a different determination. That is entirely your call.”
This story has been updated with additional reporting.