Bannon to plead not guilty to contempt charges
Onetime White House strategist Stephen Bannon moved to plead not guilty Wednesday to criminal contempt of Congress charges after he failed to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury Friday, facing two counts: one for failing to appear for an Oct. 14 deposition before the panel and another for refusal to provide documents.
The filing anticipates an arraignment scheduled for Thursday for Bannon in which he was expected to plead not guilty. His lawyers filed a motion Wednesday to enter the not guilty plea and skip the arraignment — a move that requires approval from the judge.
If convicted, Bannon faces serious penalties. Each charge carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of $100 to $100,000, meaning Bannon could be fined up to $200,000 and spend as much as two years in jail.
“I’m telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. … We’re going on the offense,” Bannon told reporters Monday after turning himself in to federal authorities.
“Not just Trump people and not just conservatives — every progressive, every liberal in this country that likes freedom of speech and liberty should be fighting for this case. That’s why I’m here today: for everybody. I’m never going to back down,” he said.
Bannon’s battle comes as the Jan. 6 panel may pursue similar charges for others who have defied the committee.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday that he would send a final warning to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that he needs to show for a deposition or face a referral to the Justice Department for criminal contempt of Congress.
Jeffrey Clark, a former mid-level attorney at the Department of Justice who former President Trump considered installing as attorney general, has also been identified by the committee as failing to cooperate.
Bannon has argued that Trump’s claims of executive privilege bar him from cooperating with the committee. The committee has said such arguments are spurious given that Bannon was not a White House employee at the time in question, and that only sitting presidents can seek to block testimony before a congressional committee.
Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the select committee from obtaining White House records over his assertions of executive privilege will head before a federal appeals court on Nov. 30.
Updated at 1:42 p.m.