DOJ urges Supreme Court to reject effort by Steve Bannon to avoid prison

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The Department of Justice filed a brief encouraging the Supreme Court to deny Steve Bannon’s emergency appeal to avoid prison after he was found guilty of contempt of Congress.

Bannon, formerly a senior adviser to former President Trump, was found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress in 2022 after failing to appear before the House Jan. 6 committee and refusing to turn over documents. A federal judge sentenced him to four months of incarceration.

Federal prosecutors said Bannon’s appeal does not meet the “extraordinary” standard to merit staying out of prison amidst appeal.

Bannon “responded to the subpoena with total noncompliance,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told the court. “He did not produce any documents and refused to appear for his scheduled deposition.”

“He cannot make the demanding showing necessary to override the normal requirement that a convicted defendant begin serving his sentence,” she wrote.

Bannon’s emergency filing claims that he should go free as his appeal moves forward, adding that prosecutors’ attempts to jail him are politically motivated.

The Department of Justice filing comes just hours after Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said that House GOP leadership will file an amicus brief advocating for the appeal.

“The amicus brief will be submitted after Bannon files a petition for rehearing en banc and will be in support of neither party,” Johnson, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said in a joint statement. 

“It will withdraw certain arguments made by the House earlier in the litigation about the organization of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol during the prior Congress,” the group continued. “House Republican Leadership continues to believe Speaker Pelosi abused her authority when organizing the Select Committee.”

Republicans have long pushed back on the Jan. 6 select committee’s subpoenas by arguing it was improperly constituted. So far, those arguments have been unsuccessful in court.

Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro is currently serving a four-month sentence after being found guilty of contempt charges for similarly flouting the Jan. 6 select committee’s subpoena. He unsuccessfully requested emergency relief from the Supreme Court.

If the court sides against Bannon, he is set to report to prison on July 1.

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