Trump ally Bannon appears in court for contempt

Steve Bannon, an ally of former President Donald Trump, appeared before a judge to face criminal contempt charges for defying a subpoena from a House committee investigating the rebellion in January at the U.S. Capitol.

Bannon surrendered earlier today to FBI agents. The 67-year-old was indicted Friday on two counts of criminal contempt — one for refusing to appear before Congress and one for refusing to submit documents in response to a subpoena from the committee.

Bannon did not file a petition during the hearing. Magistrate Judge Robin Meriwether released him without bail, but required him to check in weekly with court officials and ordered him to hand over his passport. He is due to return to court on Thursday.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon (Carolyn Custer/The Associated Press)

If convicted, Bannon faces a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year behind bars on each count, prosecutors said. Outside the courtroom, a huge inflatable mouse that looked like former President Trump was on the sidewalk while reporters waited for Bannon to leave the courtroom.

The indictment came as a second prospect, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, defied a separate subpoena from the committee on Friday, and as Trump escalated his legal battles to withhold documents and testimony about the insurgency.

If the House votes to despise Meadows, that recommendation will also be sent to the Department of Justice for a possible indictment.

Officials in both Democratic and Republican administrations have been thought of in contempt by Congress, but criminal contempt indictments are extremely rare.

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The indictment against Bannon comes after a slew of Trump administration officials – including Bannon – have defied requests and demands from Congress over the past five years with little consequence, including during the impeachment inquiry. The Obama administration has also refused to indict two of its officials in defiance of Congressional demands.

The indictment says Bannon did not communicate with the committee in any way since he received the subpoena on September 24 until October 7 when his attorney sent a letter, seven hours after the documents were due.

Bannon, who worked in the White House at the beginning of the Trump administration and is currently the host of the conspiracy-minded podcast “War Room,” is a private citizen who “refused to appear to testify as required by a subpoena,” the indictment says.

When Bannon declined to appear in his October statement, his attorney said the former Trump adviser had been instructed by an attorney for Trump citing an executive privilege not to answer questions.

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