It's time to stop delaying Steve Bannon's prison sentence, DOJ tells Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — Nearly two full years after Steve Bannon was convicted of two counts of contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas from the House Jan. 6 committee, federal prosecutors told the Supreme Court it’s time for the former Donald Trump adviser to begin serving his four-month prison sentence.

“This Court recently denied a similar application for release by another defendant who engaged in complete defiance of a subpoena issued by the same committee that subpoenaed applicant,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in a court filing, referring to former Trump adviser Peter Navarro. “For reasons set forth in more detail below, the same result is warranted here.”

Navarro, who was sentenced to four months in federal prison on the same charges as Bannon, is finishing up his sentence after he reported to prison in March.

Wednesday’s filing was in response to Bannon’s eleventh-hour bid asking the Supreme Court to allow him to stay out of prison and pursue further appeals. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols had ordered Bannon to report to prison by next Monday after a dramatic hearing this month.

After Nichols’ ruling, a federal appeals court denied Bannon’s request to stay his prison sentence pending further appeal, meaning only the Supreme Court could pause the sentence. The high court had asked the Justice Department to file a brief laying out its view on the matter by 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Bannon responded to the Justice Department’s filing in a brief later on Wednesday and attempted to draw a distinction between himself and Navarro, calling the two cases “easily distinguishable.”

Bannon, via his lawyer at the time, had engaged in discussions with the House Jan. 6 committee about his subpoena and the related privilege issues, Bannon’s current lawyer Trent McCotter argued on Wednesday. “Mr. Navarro, by contrast, failed to do this,” McCotter wrote in the court filing.

The Supreme Court could rule on Bannon’s appeal at any time.

Bannon was convicted of two counts of contempt of Congress in July 2022 and was sentenced to four months in prison in October 2022. The sentence was stayed pending appeals, and Nichols made the decision after a panel of federal appellate judges upheld Bannon’s conviction in May and federal prosecutors asked him to order Bannon to report to prison, saying there was no legal basis for a continued stay.

Bannon said in an earlier filing to the Supreme Court that he “relied in good faith on his attorney’s advice” to ignore the House Jan. 6 committee’s subpoena based on a potential assertion of executive privilege. But, as prosecutors noted in their previous sentencing memo, Bannon had long been out of the White House by the time period the House committee was interested in — when Trump tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and remain in power in the lead-up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., who as chairman of the House Administration Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight has worked to undermine the work of the Jan. 6 committee, filed an amicus briefing with the Supreme Court in which he argued that Bannon’s conviction was the result of an “invalid” prosecution.

House Republican leadership also announced that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory group voted 3-2 along partisan lines to file an amicus brief in Bannon’s case before the D.C. Circuit. Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said in a statement Wednesday that GOP leadership believed that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., “abused her authority” when organizing the Select Committee.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar, who was a member of the Jan. 6 committee, called the House Republicans’ move “shameful” and said their forthcoming briefing “isn’t worth the paper that it’s posted on.”

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