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Bannon should report for prison now, Justice Department tells judge

Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post

Former Trump political adviser and right-wing podcaster Stephen K. Bannon should report to prison immediately to begin serving a four-month prison term for contempt of Congress now that an appeals court has upheld his conviction, federal prosecutors argued to his sentencing judge Tuesday.

In a three-page filing, prosecutors said that no substantial legal questions remain over Bannon’s two-count conviction for refusing to provide documents or testimony to a House committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack after a panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday rejected Bannon’s appeal on all grounds.

Stephen K. Bannon after a federal court appearance in D.C. in 2021.

“Under these circumstances, the Court ‘shall order’ defendant ‘be detained,’ so the stay of sentence must be lifted,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Crabb Jr. wrote to U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols, who sentenced Bannon in October 2022 but agreed to postpone his prison stay pending appeal.

A lawyer for Bannon, 70, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Nichols gave Bannon until Thursday to oppose the motion. ABC News reported that Bannon told in response to the news, “I’m shocked they want to silence the voice of MAGA.”

Bannon attorney David I. Schoen previously said that he would seek a rehearing before the full D.C. Circuit after a three-judge panel of the appeals court affirmed Bannon’s conviction at trial by a D.C. jury in July 2022. Bannon has 45 days to seek an en bancreview, and the panel said it would not return the case to Nichols until seven days after that review was requested.

Nichols placed Bannon’s reporting date on hold, saying he raised a substantial question about whether he should be able to argue that he did not “willfully” refuse to cooperate because he relied on legal advice to ignore a House subpoena for his documents and testimony, among other defenses.

Bannon’s defense argued that Friday’s three-judge panel held that it did not have the authority to overrule a 1961 D.C. Circuit decision barring such defenses, but that the full court of appeals could.

Bannon could also ask the Supreme Court to intervene, but the justices declined a similar request from Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, 74, who in March became the first person incarcerated for contempt of Congress in more than half a century, since the red-baiting hearings of the Cold War era.Navarro, who said in a memoir that he and Bannon had a plan for Jan. 6 that would keep President Biden from taking office, was convicted of the same crimes in September and received an identical sentence in January from U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta.