Steve Bannon, ex-adviser and strategist for former President Donald Trump, filed a notice of appeal in federal court Friday to challenge his conviction and sentence for criminal contempt of Congress.
Bannon’s sentence of four months in prison – for failing to turn over documents or show up to testify before the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021 – will be on hold as he challenges the law around his prosecution, as the judge previously said would happen once appealed.
In July, a federal jury found Bannon guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress for defying the panel’s subpoena. The conviction was a victory for the House committee as it sought cooperation of reluctant witnesses in its historic investigation.
Last month, Judge Carl Nichols – a Trump appointee – sentenced Bannon to four months on each count running concurrently, along with a fine of $6,500. The Justice Department had wanted Bannon to be sentenced to six months and be fined $200,000, while Bannon had sought probation.
After Bannon was sentenced, the federal judge said the ex-Trump aide wouldn’t have to serve his sentence until the appeal of his conviction plays out, which is what Bannon had requested.
Bannon’s attorneys made it clear they had planned to appeal his conviction to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
During sentencing proceedings, federal prosecutors had argued that Bannon should be dealt a $200,000 fine – above the $1,000-100,000 guideline and the statutory maximum for the two counts of contempt he is facing. They pointed to Bannon’s refusal to provide the probation office with details about his finances as the reason for the particularly harsh fine. Department of Justice attorney JP Cooney argued that it “amplifies” his contempt for the law.
Prosecutors also said that citizens have put themselves in harm’s way all the time to comply with subpoenas, but Bannon “suffered no such threats” and “thumbed his nose at Congress.”
Meanwhile, Bannon’s attorney David Schoen pushed back on the idea that a lack of remorse from Bannon should warrant a harsher punishment. He claimed Bannon was upholding American values and the institutions of government, including the White House. Schoen also argued that Bannon was not acting above the law, but was acting consistently with the law, because of his concerns that documents and testimony sought by the committee were potentially protected by Trump’s executive privilege.