Judge denies Steve Bannon acquittal motion after contempt of Congress conviction

A federal judge denied former White House strategist Steve Bannon’s motion for an acquittal Wednesday after he was convicted of two counts of contempt of Congress last week. 

In rejecting the longshot attempt, US District Judge Carl Nichols ruled the evidence produced by federal prosecutors was “sufficient to sustain a conviction.” 

Nichols added that the only reason he did not rule on the motion by Bannon’s attorneys when it was initially made was because he was concerned “about the risk of potential jury bias.” 

The judge also requested additional information from both Bannon’s lawyers and the government before he could rule on a separate motion to dismiss the case against the former Breitbart executive chairman.

Lawyers from both sides have until Aug. 5 to file a brief of “no more than 15 pages” to either support their case or provide a response. A further reply from the defense must be filed on or before Aug. 19 and cannot be longer than seven pages. 

Bannon was found in contempt of Congress on July 22. A judge denied Steve Bannon’s motion for acquittal his after contempt conviction last week. Getty Images

Bannon was fired in 2017, which the court found to mitigate his claim of executive privilege. Attorney David Schoen referred to Bannon’s appeal as “bulletproof.”Getty Images

Nichols’ ruling came five days after a jury found Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress after he refused to comply last fall with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating last year’s Capitol riot. 

Bannon faces a minimum of 60 days in prison and a maximum of two years in jail, as well as a fine of up to $2,000. His sentencing is set for Oct. 21. 

Following Friday’s verdict, Bannon and his legal team said they would appeal the decision and expressed confidence of success. 

“The overreaching by the government in this case has been extraordinary on every level,” attorney David Schoen said, calling Bannon’s appeal “bulletproof.”

“But shame on this office, on the United States Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice, for how far it went in this case.”

 US District Judge Carl Nichols ruled the evidence produced by federal prosecutors was “sufficient to sustain a conviction.” Bannon’s legal team did not call witnesses and Bannon did not testify during the trial. Getty Images

“They argued to the jury today, that when a person gets a subpoena, and executive privilege is invoked, it’s for Congress to decide whether the executive privilege is valid, and how broad it is. That’s absolutely false,” Schoen continued.

“Whether one believes executive privilege was properly invoked here was valid, how broad it was, etc., when a former president or a current president invokes executive privilege, it’s presumptively valid, period,” he said. “It’s not for Congress to decide that it is not valid.”

Bannon’s attorneys — who chose not to call any witnesses or mount a defense during the trial — have long asserted that Bannon did not have to comply with the subpoena because of former President Donald Trump’s claim of executive privilege. However, the committee rejected the claim as Bannon was fired from his position at the White House in 2017. 

“If I go to jail, I go to jail,” Bannon told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Friday in his first interview since his conviction. 

“I will never back off,” he added. “I support Trump and the Constitution and I’m not backing off one inch. If I go to jail, so be it.”

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