Former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon has been found in contempt of Congress after refusing to appear before the hearing on the US Capitol riots.
banon was charged with two counts of criminal contempt – each of which carries up to a year in prison. He will be sentenced in October.
Outside the courtroom, he said he respected the jury’s decision but would appeal.
“We may have lost the battle here today, but we’re not going to lose the war,” he said, adding, “I support Trump and the (United States) Constitution and I don’t I’ll never back down.”
The prosecution had argued that Bannon had deliberately ignored clear and explicit deadlines given to him to appear, but his defense has asserted throughout that he believed those details had been “flexible and subject to negotiation”.
The case was the first successful prosecution for contempt of Congress since 1974, when a judge convicted a conspirator in the Watergate scandal – which prompted the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
The Democratic-led House Select Committee had subpoenaed Bannon, 68, for testimony and documents, as part of its investigation into the January 6, 2021 rampage by Trump supporters trying to undo the 2020 Republican election defeat.
Bannon the Barbarian or Sloppy Steve? Who is Trump’s former top aide
But prosecutor Molly Gaston told jurors at the Washington DC courthouse that Bannon thought the investigation was “below him”.
“There is nothing political about finding out why January 6 happened and making sure it never happens again,” she said.
“The accused deliberately decided not to comply and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a contempt. It is a crime.”
Bannon’s lawyers argued that asking their client to appear at the inquest was political, as there was “no evidence” that he had been involved in the insurrection.
Evan Corcoran told jurors: “The question is, why? Why was Steve Bannon chosen? I’m asking you, was it affected in any way by politics?”
And Mr. Corcoran had attempted to portray the main prosecution witness, committee staffer Kristin Amerling, as politically motivated.
Trump will forgive Capitol rioters if he runs and wins in 2024
Ms Gaston told the court that the attack on the Capitol on January 6 represented a “dark day” for America and that Bannon, both a key Trump strategist and an influential figure on the American right, had shown contempt for Congress.
Bannon was first an adviser to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, then served as his White House chief
strategist in 2017 before a falling out between the two which was later patched up.
On the morning of the riots, thousands of Trump supporters – inspired by an inflammatory speech he had just made near the White House in which he repeated that he had been denied a second term due to electoral fraud – marched to the Capitol Building which houses the Seat of the US Government.
The Capitol was in session at the time, overseeing Congressional certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
A large group broke through barriers at the pedestrian entrances to the building’s grounds. Several also entered the Capitol building after a mob smashed windows and forced open doors.
More than 100 police officers were injured in the chaos.
The House panel is currently investigating the events of that day.
You Can Read Also