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Tipsheet

What's Interesting About the Steve Bannon Verdict

AP Photo/LM Otero

Former top Trump White House adviser and media executive Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in jail for defying congressional subpoenas regarding the January 6 riot. The select committee compelled the Trump aide to turn over any documents related to the Capitol scuffle, but he refused to comply. Bannon also refused to appear before the panel to testify, prompting two guilty verdicts for contempt of Congress (via Axios):

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Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser, on Friday was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay a $6,500 fine for defying a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The Justice Department had argued that the former Trump adviser should get six months in prison, the harshest sentence available under federal guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols stayed the sentence while Bannon appeals his conviction.

"Mr. Bannon has not taken responsibility for his actions. ... Flaunting Congressional subpoenas betrays a lack of respect for the legislative branch," Nichols said, according to Reuters.

The big picture: Bannon in July was found guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena issued by the Jan. 6 select committee.

Liberals probably are rejoicing as Bannon is reviled among their circles. Still, while a four-month jail sentence was handed down—the Department of Justice wanted six months—Bannon has vowed to fight to the bitter end. Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, rendered his judgment, admonishing Bannon for disrespecting the legislative branch but did admit in his ruling that Mr. Bannon does have ample grounds for appeal. He also said Bannon could remain free while that process is hashed out in the courts. The final decision regarding this case won’t be decided until next year, with observers noting that it could be longer. 

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He's a controversial figure, but the Bannon verdict is interesting only because he serves as another chapter in the ongoing and sordid tale about how there are two separate systems of justice regarding Democrats and Republicans. This story isn’t new—and you all know the details—but Bannon has been convicted of contempt of Congress and could go to jail. At the same time, former Obama officials openly defied congressional subpoenas, even lied, and have remained unscathed by the Justice Department. The former Director of National Intelligence lied to Congress about the government collecting metadata on scores of Americans. Eric Holder, the hyper-political attorney general under Obama, defied a subpoena to turn over documents relating to the Fast and Furious scandal. He was also held in contempt of Congress, only to be spared judgment by a federal judge. 

In the case of Igor Danchenko, you can be acquitted of lying to the FBI about Donald Trump, pushing salacious and spurious claims about how the former president is a Kremlin agent, among other things that we don’t need to delve into, which set off the Russian collusion circus. Nothing this guy said was factual, but he got away with it. 

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Forget about Bannon’s past; his political and business activities are not the issue here—it’s that Democrats have done similar things or worse, which warrant jail time but got bailed out due to partisan biases. It was always prevalent, but it’s been more overt and explicit since 2016 for obvious reasons. 

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