Federal prosecutors had asked Nichols to imprison Bannon for six months and fine him $200,000, arguing that he had “pursued a bad-faith strategy of defense and contempt” from the moment he received the subpoena in September 2021.
They also noted that in courthouse news conferences and on his War Room podcast, Bannon had publicly decried the case against him and mocked the criminal justice system.
“[T]he Defendant has exploited his notoriety … to display to the public the source of his bad-faith refusal to comply with the Committee’s subpoena: a total disregard for government processes and the law,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Through his public platforms, the Defendant has used hyperbolic and sometimes violent rhetoric to disparage the Committee’s investigation, personally attack the Committee’s members, and ridicule the criminal justice system.
“The Defendant’s statements prove that his contempt was not aimed at protecting executive privilege or the Constitution, rather it was aimed at undermining the Committee’s efforts to investigate an historic attack on government,” they wrote.
Bannon had claimed he chose not to cooperate because he had been advised by lawyers that he was shielded because Trump was claiming executive privilege, a legal doctrine that protects some White House communications. (Bannon was no longer a federal employee by the time of the attack on the Capitol, having been forced out in 2017, but had been advising Trump in the aftermath of his 2020 election loss. The night before the Capitol riot, Bannon had told his podcast listeners, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”)
His attorneys had asked the judge to sentence Bannon only to probation and to delay any sentence until he could exhaust his legal appeals.
In their sentencing memorandum, defense attorneys noted that the Department of Justice had not indicted some other Trump allies who had refused to cooperate with the investigative committee.
“Should a person be jailed where the prosecutor declined to prosecute others who were similarly situated – with the only difference being that this person uses their voice to express strongly held political views?” they wrote.