WASHINGTON — Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump was convicted Friday of contempt charges for defying a congressional subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Bannon was found guilty after a trial that lasted around five days in federal court in Washington on two counts: one for refusing to appear for a deposition and the other for refusing to provide documents in response to the committee’s subpoena.
He faces up to two years in a federal lockup when he’s sentenced. Every count is punishable by a minimum of 30 days imprisonment.
A jury consisting of eight men, four women, deliberated just three hours before returning their verdict.
Learn More The Jan. 6 Hearings May Be Exposing Trump’s ‘Glass Jaw’
THIS IS BREAKING NEWS. AP’s earlier story follows below.
WASHINGTON — Closing arguments were expected Friday in Steve Bannon’s contempt of Congress trial, with the jury likely to get the case against the onetime Donald Trump ally.
Bannon faces two criminal contempt charges for not appearing before the House investigation committee into the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection and subsequent events. Each count can result in a maximum of 30 days imprisonment and up to one year.
Bannon refused to appear as a witness on Thursday. His lawyers also did not call witnesses. Instead, they argued that the judge should drop the charges because the evidence was insufficient. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols didn’t immediately rule on the request.
At the time of the Jan. 6th 2021 insurrection, Bannon served an informal role to Trump. The committee, which held a prime time hearing Thursday that included Bannon comments of Trump’s post-election strategy, wanted to speak with Bannon because it had information that he was actively involved in planning, logistics and fundraising for Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and stop Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.
The panel’s subpoena demanded any documents or communications relating to Trump and others in his orbit, including lawyer Rudy Giuliani and extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.
Evan Corcoran, Bannon’s lawyer, argued that the charges against him were politically motivated and that Bannon had been engaged in good-faith negotiations with the congressional committee over his concerns about testifying. “No one ignored the subpoena,” Corcoran told the jury.
Corcoran attempted to show that Bannon could appear before the House panel at any time provided they were in negotiations over timing. He said testimony from the House panel’s chief lawyer, Kristin Amerling, made it clear “that the dates were in flux.”
Corcoran said that “no reasonable juror could conclude that Mr. Bannon refused to comply.”
Learn More Donald Trump turned Jan. 6 into an opportunity for a windfall
Bannon’s team told the judge that Bannon saw no point in testifying at his trial since Nichols’ previous rulings had gutted his avenues of defense. Among other things, Bannon’s team was barred from calling as witnesses House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or members of the House panel.
Another Bannon lawyer, David Schoen, said Bannon “understands that he would be barred from telling the true facts.”
Amerling is the focus of most trial testimony. She explained both the scope to which Bannon was engaged by the committee and the timeline that led up to the missing deadline.
Corcoran asked Amerling during cross-examination if it was normal for witnesses to appear in front of a congressional committee many weeks after the subpoena deadline. Amerling answered “yes,” but added only “when witnesses are cooperating with the committee.”
Amerling claimed that Bannon wasn’t cooperative from the very beginning and therefore there was not much room for negotiation.
The committee heard nothing from Bannon until after the first deadline had passed, at which point his lawyer sent a letter to the committee stating that Bannon was protected by Trump’s claim of executive privilege and would not be providing documents or appearing. The committee responded in writing that Trump’s claim was invalid — Trump was no longer president, and Bannon was not employed at the White House at the time of the riot.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn told jurors that the subpoena issued to Bannon “wasn’t optional. It wasn’t a request, and it wasn’t an invitation. It was mandatory.” She added: “The defendant’s failure to comply was deliberate. It wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t a mistake. It was a choice.”
Bannon was indicted in November on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress, one month after the Justice Department received the House panel’s referral.
Follow AP’s coverage of the Jan. 6 committee hearings at https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege
Here are more must-read stories from TIME