Appeals court denies Steve Bannon’s bid to stay out of prison

WASHINGTON — An appeals court denied former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s request to remain out of prison Thursday while he appeals his conviction on contempt of Congress charges. 

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied Bannon’s request in a 2-1 ruling, with two judges deciding that the arguments in Bannon’s request do not present a “substantial question” of law that could reverse his conviction.

“Bannon’s proposal—that to prove willful default the government must establish that the witness knew that his conduct was unlawful—cannot be reconciled with the Supreme Court’s approach to the statute,” said the order by Judges Cornelia Pillard and Bradley Garcia.

A third judge, Justin Walker, dissented, writing that arguments about Bannon’s state of mind when he refused to comply with a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 committee presented a “close question” that could be decided in Bannon’s favor by the Supreme Court.  

“That close question may well have mattered at Bannon’s trial,” Walker wrote.

Bannon was ordered this month to report to prison on July 1. In previous filings before the D.C. Circuit, his lawyers expressed their intention to seek relief from the Supreme Court if the appeals court panel ruled against them.

Bannon’s team filed the unsuccessful emergency motion on June 11 asking the federal appeals court to overrule a lower court’s ruling that he must report to prison in July.

Bannon’s lawyer Trent McCotter did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.

A lawyer who has previously represented Bannon, David Schoen, said he “quit the case last Tuesday” after he saw the motion at issue had been filed, saying he “had nothing to do with the motion.”

An appeals court in May upheld Bannon’s conviction on two counts of contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena for documents related to the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021. He was convicted in 2022 and sentenced to four months in prison.

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