Legal expert surprised Bannon wasn't sent to prison immediately: He 'should be in custody'
Steve Bannon (Twitter).

A well-known legal exert, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, says former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon “should be in custody” after a U.S. District Court judge sentenced him to four months in prison.

Bannon was found guilty of contempt of Congress. At his sentencing hearing Friday U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee who clerked with Justice Clarence Thomas, sentenced Bannon but effectively stayed that sentence to give Bannon time to appeal.

The Dept. of Justice had asked Judge Nichols to sentence Bannon to six months and a fine of $200,000. Nichols handed down a four month sentence with a fine of just $6500.

Vance, a professor of law and MSNBC/NBC News legal contributor, seemed surprised that Bannon wasn’t sent to prison immediately.

“The Judge, predictably, given his demeanor during trial, has stayed Bannon’s sentence pending appeal,” Vance tweeted. “That’s only supposed to happen if he’s not a flight risk & there’s a ‘substantial’ issue. Bannon wants to argue he was entitled to present a reliance on advice of counsel defense.”

“The relevant statute, 18 U.S.C. 3143, which covers release of a defendant pending sentencing, provides: that the judge ‘shall’ remand a defendant to custody after sentencing, unless he finds by clear & convincing evidence that the defendant isn’t a flight risk,” she wrote on Twitter.

Vance pointed to a series of items in the law that in addition to not being a flight risk Bannon by law would have had to meet, including that “the appeal is not for purpose of delay and raises a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in” a reversal, an order for a new trial, or a sentence that does not include jail time.

”At trial, Judge Nichols,” she added, “seemed to regretfully conclude Bannon wasn’t entitled to a defense of relying on a lawyer’s advice, because, the law says he can’t. So calling that argument ‘substantial’ is awfully thin.”

“Bannon should be in custody like any other defendant would be,” Vance concluded.

Former federal prosecutor Michael J. Stern agrees.

“Bannon should have been taken into custody when he was given his 4 month sentence this morning,” he wrote on Twitter. “He should not be free on appeal.”