On Monday, the Department of Justice released its sentencing memorandum for former Trump official Steve Bannon, who was found guilty on two contempt of Congress charges earlier this year in July for not complying with subpoenas from the January 6 committee.
In their recommendation, the DOJ cited statements made by Bannon before, during, and after his trial as reasons why he should be sentenced to serve six months in jail and pay a $200,000 fine. These were cited additionally and separately from the crimes of which he was accused.
"Throughout the pendency of this case," the DOJ wrote, "the Defendant has exploited his notoriety … to display to the public the source of his bad-faith refusal to comply with the Committee’s subpoena." They deemed his actions to be "a total disregard for government processes and the law."
The DOJ went on to suggest that Bannon's statements "prove that his contempt was not aimed at protecting executive privilege or the Constitution, rather it was aimed at undermining the Committee’s efforts to investigate an historic attack on government."
The statements in question included those made in public appearances, as well as on his popular War Room podcast.
In one example cited by the DOJ, Bannon "teased Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff as 'shifty Schiff' and another member of Congress, Rep. Eric Swalwell, as 'fang fang Swalwell'," referring to the Chinese spy who worked in his office, with whom he had an affair.
The DOJ also called attention to the numerous times Bannon referred to the proceedings as a "show trial," and vowed to destroy the "illegitimate regime" that was facilitating his prosecution.
The DOJ admitted that none of Bannon's statements were illegal, however that did not stop them from using them to "confirm his bad faith."
"There is nothing criminal about the Defendant’s opinions or his expression of those opinions," they wrote," adding that "this Court may—and should— consider the Defendant’s out-of-court statements to ascertain his motive, evaluate his intent, and measure the degree of his contempt, including appraising his overall disdain and disrespect for the rule of law and the investigative and criminal justice processes that are crucial to maintaining a peaceful, lawful, and orderly society."
The DOJ went on to explain that because Bannon refused to hand over his financial records, as per normal procedure, and instead stated that he would rather just pay the maximum fine, they would do just that, imposing a $100,000 fine for each charge.
"The rioters who overran the Capitol on January 6 did not just attack a building," the DOJ concluded, "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."
They argued that Bannon's actions "cannot be tolerated," adding that his "bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt deserves severe punishment."
Bannon has asked for house arrest instead of prison time, and is set to receive his sentence on Friday.
He was prosecuted for not complying with a subpoena demanding he hand over his communications with former President Donald Trump to the January 6 committee. Bannon cited Trump's invocation of executive privilege, which the DOJ said was irrelevant. Trump later revoked his privilege, allowing Bannon to testify, but the DOJ chose to proceed with the trial anyway.
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