Bannon surrenders to federal authorities

Former Trump Administration White House advisor Steve Bannon talks with members of the media after an appearance at U.S. District Court on Nov. 15 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS

WASHINGTON — Former White House adviser Stephen Bannon turned himself in to federal custody Monday, days after he was indicted on criminal charges for not cooperating with the House select committee’s investigation into the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.

Bannon livestreamed his surrender at the FBI Washington Field Office on the GETTR social media platform, urging his supporters to stay focused on “signal” not “noise,” apparently referring to his legal troubles.

“I don’t want anybody to take their eye off the ball of what we do every day. We got the Hispanics coming to our side. African Americans coming to our side,” Bannon said ahead of his surrender. “We’re taking down the Biden regime.”

Bannon will be arraigned at a virtual hearing before District Court Judge Judge Carl J. Nichols Thursday at 11 a.m. Eastern time. He will not be held in jail and there is no monetary bond required. He is required to report to pretrial services weekly by phone.

Bannon, 67, was indicted Friday on two counts of contempt of Congress for not producing records and for not testifying before the Jan. 6 panel. He faces a maximum of two years in jail and a $2,000 fine. A conviction would not compel him to produce the records or testimony.

The committee in its contempt report to the House said Bannon, through his noncompliance, is withholding information “critical” to its investigation. Bannon reportedly spoke to Trump leading up to the insurrection and promoted the eventual riot. He even forewarned the violence that would take place during the insurrection. The day before, on his Jan. 5 podcast, Bannon said, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

The Department of Justice’s decision to charge Bannon with contempt of Congress is a boon to the committee and for congressional subpoena authority. Though the House vote to hold Bannon in contempt was mostly a party-line vote, nine Republicans joined Democrats. South Carolina Republican Nancy Mace said her vote in favor was to uphold the subpoena power of Congress.

Bannon was a private citizen leading up to and on Jan. 6 and had not worked in the Trump White House since 2017, a point the indictment noted. Bannon’s lawyer told the select panel he was unable to comply with the subpoena until executive privilege claims by former President Donald Trump are resolved.

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, unlike Bannon, was working in the administration during the insurrection. Meadows has not cooperated with the investigation, but the fact that he was working in the White House makes his case different from that of Bannon.

Select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has said the committee could soon consider contempt or civil action against Meadows.

Bannon’s criminal case could take months or longer depending on the prosecutors and the judge, according to Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at George Washington University.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments Nov. 30 on Trump’s lawsuit to block the release of White House records to the select committee. Although it’s unclear when that panel might rule, the losing side is expected to ask the Supreme Court to quickly weigh in.

Trump’s lawyers argue he can assert executive privilege over the documents, a privilege meant to protect a president’s ability to get candid advice without the threat that those conversations will quickly become public. The government argues, and a district judge agreed, that questions of executive privilege lie with the current president only, and President Joe Biden has allowed the release of the Trump White House records being requested by the committee.

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