'Conviction may encourage others to stop obstructing': Legal experts share their reaction to Bannon's guilty verdict
Former Trump White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President, advisor, and “far-right political provocateur” Steve Bannon was found guilty Friday afternoon on contempt of Congress charges after he refused to provide requested documents and testimony to the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.
Bannon had “vowed to go ‘medieval’ on his enemies, but most of his legal arguments were rejected by the trial judge, and the tough-talking defendant ended up calling no witnesses,” The Washington Post reports.
The verdict is being seen by legal experts as an important success for the rule of law, for the Select Committee, and for strengthening Congress’ right to enforce subpoenas it issues.
After the verdict Bannon resorted to name-calling members of Congress he tried to have ordered to testify.
“Bannon’s lawyer, David Schoen, called the guilty verdict ‘a foregone conclusion’ based on pre-trial rulings, but said would file a ‘bulletproof’ appeal. ‘You’ll see this case reversed,’ he predicted.”
Former US Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal mocked the former Trump White House advisor. “This trial lasted about as long as Steve Bannon’s career at the White House,” Katyal said.
Well-known attorney Norm Eisen, the former White House Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform who served during the first Trump impeachment as co-counsel for the House Judiciary Committee weighed in.
“The Bannon verdict is not a side show,” Eisen warned. “The same principle is at stake as in the 1/6 Comm. & the likely coming prosecutions of Trump & (other) cronies. No one is above the law.”
“Fast verdict,” former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, an MSNBC legal analyst, commented. “Bannon guilty on both charges of contempt of Congress. Appeals will delay his being jailed but conviction may encourage others to stop obstructing and start cooperating.”
Georgetown Law professor Josh Chafetz noted: “Congressional subpoenas are not optional, and maybe Bannon serving some time will go some way towards reminding other folks of that fact.”
“We won’t learn Bannon’s sentence until a court hearing scheduled for October 21,” added Wall Street Journal legal affairs reporter Jan Wolfe.
“In the meantime, expect an appeal,” he said, as Bannon’s attorney has promised.
"Contempt of Congress carries a max penalty of one year per count,” Wolf noted. “Peter Navarro’s contempt trial is in November. Wonder if he’ll be more more keen to cut a deal?”
But attorney George Conway appeared to compare Bannon to Adolf Hitler:
“Wouldn’t surprise me if Bannon actually does want to go to prison so that he can spend time working on a book about His Struggle.”
The English translation of Hitler’s manifesto, Mein Kampf, is, “My Struggle.”
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