In a move that smacks of political persecution, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was indicted by President Joe Biden’s Justice Department (DOJ) last week on charges of criminal contempt of Congress after he defied subpoenas issued by the highly partisan House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Bannon was scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Thursday, but he waived that appearance by submitting a written plea of not guilty to the two charges lodged against him, Fox News reported.
Those charges, announced Friday in a press release from the DOJ, included one count of contempt for his refusal to appear for a deposition, as well as one charge of contempt for refusing to turn over certain documents.
Both charges were demanded by the committee and, if convicted, could result in up to a year in prison and $100,000 fine each for Bannon.
Bannon defiant in face of federal charges
The Epoch Times reports that Bannon turned himself in to federal authorities on Nov. 15, shortly after the indictment was issued, and was subsequently released without bail after turning in his passport.
“This is going to be a misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden,” Bannon, speaking alongside his attorney, David Schoen, said at the time.
“Not just Trump people and not just conservatives — every progressive, every liberal in this country that likes freedom of speech and liberty should be fighting for this case. That’s why I’m here today: for everybody. I’m never going to back down,” he added.
A question of executive privilege
According to Fox, Bannon also vowed to fight the charges and insisted that he would be “taking on the Biden regime.”
“If the administrative state wants to take me on, bring it,” he said Monday, according to the Washington Examiner. “We’re going to go on offense.”
According to the Examiner, Bannon and his attorney have cited in his defense the same executive privilege invoked by former President Donald Trump in response to subpoenas issued by the House select committee, which Schoen argued had “prejudged” the entire thing and was a “scam from the beginning.”
There is a problem with that, though: President Biden has refused to support the executive privilege claims of his predecessor and ordered the National Archives to turn over to the committee any and all records sought from Trump’s time in office — a move that could come back to haunt Biden in the future when the GOP reclaims control of Congress.