Steve Bannon Ordered to Jail by July as He Fights Contempt Conviction

(Bloomberg) -- Steve Bannon, a longtime adviser to former President Donald Trump, was ordered to start serving a four-month jail sentence by July 1, after his failed appeal to overturn a 2022 conviction for contempt of Congress.

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US District Judge Carl Nichols, who had delayed Bannon’s punishment during the appeal, said at a hearing Thursday in Washington that there was no reason to further postpone the sentence after the appeals court decision.

A jury found Bannon, 70, guilty of contempt for refusing to testify and hand over documents to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. A federal appeals court last month rejected Bannon’s bid to toss the conviction.

Outside the courthouse on Thursday, Bannon pledged to fight on by taking his appeal to the US Supreme Court, if necessary.

“There is not a prison built or a jail built that will ever shut me up,” Bannon said. He claimed the US Justice Department’s push to get him behind bars was an attempt to shut down the “Make America Great Again” movement of Trump, who is campaigning for a return to the White House in the November election against President Joe Biden.

In May, the appeals court said Bannon’s failure to cooperate with the House inquiry “was no accident” and that he can’t claim that he relied on his attorney’s advice. Bannon’s request failed to meet the high bar needed to deviate from a longstanding court decision called Licavoli, which restricted him from relying on an “advice of counsel” defense, the panel ruled.

When he delayed the sentence, Nichols said the conviction “raises a substantial question of law that is likely to result in a reversal or an order for a new trial.” But federal prosecutors, in a recent court filing, argued the appeals court decision no longer leaves a substantial question of law and asked that Bannon be locked up.

On Thursday, Nichols agreed with prosecutors, but still questioned whether the May ruling by the three-judge panel will hold up on appeal.

“The panel didn’t just say we are bound by Licavoli,” but spent two pages explaining why it agreed with that decision, the judge said. “I’m not sure that’s right,” said Nichols.

In setting a July surrender date, Nichols said he took into account that Bannon might like to appeal his decision.

Bannon’s attorney had urged Nichols to keep the stay on the sentence in place until the case can be reviewed by the full Washington appellate court or by the Supreme Court.

The case is US v. Bannon, 21-cr-00670, US District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

(Updates with comment from judge and Bannon.)

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