Biden DOJ demands Steve Bannon immediately begin prison sentence for contempt of Congress conviction

 May 15, 2024

President Joe Biden's Justice Department has made it abundantly clear that they believe that former President Donald Trump, his advisers, and his supporters belong behind bars for any number of various reasons.

That was proven once again on Tuesday when the Biden DOJ urged a judge to lift a stay and send former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to prison over a contempt of Congress conviction, Axios reported.

The DOJ's demand that Bannon immediately begin serving a four-month sentence came even as Bannon has not yet completely exhausted the appeals process.

Bannon's appeal of contempt conviction rejected by D.C. Circuit panel

Bannon, a podcast host who previously served as a top adviser and strategist for former President Trump, was convicted on two counts of contempt of Congress in 2022 for refusing to comply with subpoenas issued by the highly partisan House Jan. 6 Select Committee.

When D.C. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, sentenced Bannon to serve four months concurrently in prison for each count, however, he issued a stay on that sentence to allow Bannon to appeal the matter, according to Politico.

On Friday, however, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected Bannon's appeal on all grounds, a decision that prompted Bannon's attorney, David Schoen, to announce his intent to further pursue the appeal with a request for an "en banc" review by the entire 11-member D.C. Circuit Court or, failing that, to petition the Supreme Court for intervention in the matter.

"Today’s decision is wrong as a matter of law and it reflects a very dangerous view of the threshold for criminal liability for any defendant in our country and for future political abuses of the congressional hearing process," Schoen said of the appellate panel's ruling.

DOJ demands that Bannon immediately begin serving his four-month sentence

The fact that Bannon has not yet fully exhausted the appellate process is apparently of no concern to President Biden's DOJ, as was evident in a three-page motion on Tuesday that urged Judge Nichols to "lift the stay of defendant’s sentence because there is no legal basis for the stay," based upon the three-judge panel's ruling last week.

The federal prosecutors noted that Nichols had stayed the four-month sentence in case Bannon's appeal "raised a substantial question of law that is likely to result in a reversal or an order for a new trial," but pointed out that the D.C. Circuit panel unanimously "affirmed defendant’s conviction" and "rejected defendant’s appeal on all grounds, including the primary argument on appeal" -- that his refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena was based upon advice from his attorney.

"Consequently, there is no longer a 'substantial question of law that is likely to result in a reversal or an order for a new trial,'" the DOJ motion stated. "Under these circumstances, the Court 'shall order' defendant 'be detained,' ... so the stay of sentence must be lifted."

The DOJ's motion included two footnotes in support of its request for Bannon to immediately begin serving his prison sentence, the first of which noted that fellow former Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who was also convicted of contempt for similarly refusing to appear before the House Jan. 6 Committee, had already seen his appeal denied by the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court, "albeit on procedural grounds."

As for the fact that Bannon still planned to request an en banc review hearing and to petition the Supreme Court, not to mention that the D.C. Circuit issued a seven-day stay on its own "mandate" so that Bannon could continue his appeal, the DOJ's second footnote essentially urged Judge Nichols to ignore all of that and immediately send Bannon to prison as "this does not divest the Court of its authority to lift the stay of sentence."

Judge gives Bannon a few more days to argue why he shouldn't be immediately sent to prison

Law & Crime reported that the DOJ attached to its motion a proposed order for the judge to adopt that would instruct the Bureau of Prisons to swiftly "set a date" for Bannon to report to prison to begin serving his four-month sentence -- again, despite the fact that he has not yet fully exhausted the appellate process.

In response to the DOJ's motion and proposed order, Judge Nichols gave Bannon until Thursday to submit a filing to explain whether the judge "has the authority to grant the Motion in light of the Court of Appeals’ stay of the mandate."

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