Steve Bannon found guilty of contempt of Congress charges after jury deliberates for just three hours
Steve Bannon / Gage Skidmore.

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's former campaign manager, has been found guilty on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress.

In closing arguments on Friday, prosecutor Molly Gaston told jurors, “This is a case about a man, Steve Bannon, who didn’t show up.”

“Why didn’t he show? He didn’t show up because he did not want to provide the Jan. 6 committee with the documents. He did not want to answer their questions. And when it really comes down to it, he did not want to recognize the government’s authority.”

The jury deliberated for about three hours.

Bannon, who led Trump's successful 2016 presidential election campaign, was among dozens of people called to testify about the storming of Congress by Trump supporters.

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Bannon was indicted on November 12, 2021, on two charges of contempt of Congress after refusing to testify to a House of Representatives committee probing the violence.

“Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement last year. “Today’s charges reflect the department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.”

Bannon's lawyers sought to delay the start of the trial so that it would not take place at the same time as the committee's public hearings, but the judge refused last week.

Thousands of Trump supporters, many associated with ultra-nationalist and white supremacist groups, stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in an effort to block the certification of Democrat Joe Biden's election victory.

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They had been egged on by Trump in a fiery speech during which he repeated his false claims of election fraud.

According to the House committee probing the riot, Bannon spoke to Trump the previous day.

Investigators believe Bannon and other Trump advisors could have information on links between the White House and the rioters.

After refusing to testify for months, Bannon finally agreed to cooperate with the investigation, a move prosecutors said was a "last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability" by stalling his trial for contempt.

Judge Carl Nichols ruled it should go ahead anyway, saying "I see no reason for extending this case any longer."

If convicted of contempt, Bannon, 68, faces a minimum sentence of 30 days and a maximum of one year in prison on each count.

He was Trump's strategy chief at the White House before being sacked in 2017.

Bannon was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering after allegedly defrauding thousands of donors to a campaign to fund Trump's anti-migrant wall along the southern border.

In Trump's final hours in office, he pardoned Bannon.

More than 850 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on Congress. The assault left at least five people dead and 140 police officers injured.

Trump was impeached for a historic second time by the House after the riot -- he was charged with inciting an insurrection -- but was acquitted by the Senate.


With additional reporting by AFP

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