By Jan Wolfe and Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Former President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Steve Bannon appeared in court on Monday on criminal charges arising from his defiance of a congressional inquiry into the deadly Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, making ominous comments about President Joe Biden earlier in the day before surrendering to […]
Trump adviser Bannon surrenders, appears in court on Jan. 6 riot probe charges
By Jan Wolfe and Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Former President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Steve Bannon appeared in court on Monday on criminal charges arising from his defiance of a congressional inquiry into the deadly Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, making ominous comments about President Joe Biden earlier in the day before surrendering to the FBI.
Bannon, indicted by a federal grand jury https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-justice-department-indicts-bannon-not-complying-with-jan-6-subpoena-2021-11-12 on Friday on two counts of contempt of Congress, appeared before Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather. Hours earlier, Bannon turned himself in at an FBI field office in Washington, flanked by black-clad bodyguards.
“We’re taking down the Biden regime,” Bannon told a throng of journalists.
Meriweather imposed several conditions on Bannon before releasing him including surrendering his U.S. passport. Bannon did not enter a plea during the hearing, with an arraignment instead scheduled for Thursday before U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols.
In comments aimed at his supporters before turning himself in, Bannon looked directly into a camera that was live-streaming on the social media platform GETTR, founded by Trump ally Jason Miller.
“I want you guys to stay focused,” said Bannon, who wore a olive-green coat over black clothing and was accompanied by body guards dressed in black including black face masks, while a demonstrator standing behind him held a sign that read “Coup Plotter.”
“This is all noise,” Bannon added, while also touting his own podcast.
Bannon was indicted on one contempt count for refusing to appear for a deposition before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack and a second count for refusing to produce documents.
Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail along with a monetary fine.
Bannon is one of more than 30 people close to Trump ordered by the House committee to testify about the run-up to Jan. 6, when a mob of the Republican former president’s supporters stormed the Capitol in a failed attempt to prevent formal congressional certification of his election loss to Biden.
Trump has sought to stonewall the Democratic-led committee, which is scrutinizing his actions relating to the riot, and directed his former associates not to cooperate. In defying his subpoena, Bannon cited Trump’s insistence – already rejected by one judge – that he has a right to keep the requested material confidential under a legal doctrine called executive privilege https://www.reuters.com/world/us/can-trump-use-executive-privilege-block-jan-6-attack-probe-2021-09-09.
Bannon, a prominent figure in right-wing media circles, was an architect of Trump’s 2016 presidential victory and served as White House chief strategist in 2017. The former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker and Navy veteran has promoted right-wing causes and candidates in the United States and abroad.
PRIOR TRUMP PARDON
Bannon separately was charged last year https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-bannon/steve-bannon-key-to-trumps-rise-charged-with-defrauding-border-wall-supporters-idUSKBN25G1J4 with defrauding donors to a private fund-raising effort to boost Trump’s pledge to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. Trump pardoned Bannon before the case could go to trial.
The House committee has said Bannon made public statements suggesting he knew in advance about “extreme events” that would occur on Jan. 6. Bannon said on a Jan. 5 podcast that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
Shortly before the Jan. 6 riot, Trump gave a speech to supporters rallying near the White House repeating his false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud and urging them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” to “stop the steal.”
House investigators hope the charges against Bannon will motivate other witnesses including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to testify. Democrat Adam Schiff, a member of the select committee, on Sunday reiterated its threat to pursue contempt charges against Meadows, who on Friday refused to appear for a deposition, but said it wants to have the strongest possible case.
Trump said in a statement on Sunday: “This Country has perhaps never done to anyone what they have done to Steve Bannon and they are looking to do it to others, also.”
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone)