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Court Refuses to Delay Bannon Sentence 06/21 06:14

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court panel on Thursday rejected 
longtime Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon's bid to stay out of prison while he 
fights his conviction for defying a subpoena from the House committee that 
investigated the U.S. Capitol attack.

   Bannon is supposed to report to prison by July 1 to begin serving his 
four-month sentence for contempt of Congress.

   U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, who was nominated to the bench by Trump, 
earlier this month granted prosecutors' request to send Bannon to prison after 
a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld 
his conviction.

   Bannon's lawyers asked the appeals court to allow him to remain free while 
he continues to fight the conviction all the way up to the Supreme Court, if 
necessary. But in a 2-1 vote, the D.C. Circuit panel said Bannon's case "does 
not warrant a departure from the general rule" that defendants begin serving 
their sentence after conviction.

   Judges Cornelia Pillard, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama, 
and Bradley Garcia, a nominee of President Joe Biden, voted to send Bannon to 
prison. Judge Justin Walker, who was nominated by Trump, dissented, writing 
that he should not have to serve time before the Supreme Court decides whether 
to take up his case.

   Bannon is expected to ask the Supreme Court to stave off his prison 
sentence. His attorneys didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment 
Thursday.

   He was convicted nearly two years ago of two counts of contempt of Congress: 
one for refusing to sit for a deposition with the Jan. 6 House Committee and 
the other for refusing to provide documents related to his involvement in 
efforts by Trump, a Republican, to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss 
to Joe Biden, a Democrat.

   Bannon's lawyer at trial argued that the former Trump adviser didn't ignore 
the subpoena but was still engaged in good-faith negotiations with the 
congressional committee when he was charged. The defense has said Bannon had 
been relying on the advice on his attorney, who believed that Bannon couldn't 
testify or produce documents because Trump had invoked executive privilege.

   Lawyers for Bannon say the case raises serious legal questions that will 
likely need to be resolved by the Supreme Court but he will have already 
finished his prison sentence by the time the case gets there.

   In court papers, Bannon's lawyers also argued that there is a "strong public 
interest" in allowing him to remain free in the run-up to the 2024 election 
because Bannon is a top adviser to Trump's campaign.

   Bannon's lawyers said the Justice Department, in trying to imprison him now, 
is "giving an appearance that the government is trying to prevent Mr. Bannon 
from fully assisting with the campaign and speaking out on important issues, 
and also ensuring the government exacts its pound of flesh before the possible 
end of the Biden Administration."

   Prosecutors said in court papers that Bannon's "role in political discourse" 
is irrelevant.

   "Bannon also cannot reconcile his claim for special treatment with the 
bedrock principle of equal justice under the law," prosecutors wrote. 
"Even-handed application of the bail statute requires Bannon's continued 
detention."

   A second Trump aide, trade adviser Peter Navarro, is already serving his 
four-month prison sentence for contempt of Congress. Navarro, too, has said he 
couldn't cooperate with the committee because Trump had invoked executive 
privilege. The judge barred him from making that argument at trial, however, 
finding that he didn't show Trump had actually invoked it.

   The House Jan. 6 committee's final report asserted that Trump criminally 
engaged in a "multi-part conspiracy" to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 
election and failed to act to stop his supporters from attacking the Capitol, 
concluding an extraordinary 18-month investigation into the former president 
and the violent insurrection.

 
 
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