Steve Bannon sentenced to four months in prison

Despite receiving a prison sentence for defying a subpoena to testify and provide evidence for the January 6 investigations, Bannon could remain free for a year or more

October 21, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Former Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon and Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Steve Bannon, former chief strategist for Donald Trump, was sentenced to four months in prison and a $6,500 fine on October 21. He was convicted of defying a subpoena from lawmakers requesting evidence and testimony in the investigations following the January 6, 2021 attacks on the US Capitol.

Steve Bannon is a former Hollywood producer and one of the founders of ultra-right wing Breitbart News. He was chief executive of the 2016 Trump campaign, and was later appointed Trump’s senior counselor and chief strategist, and a member of the National Security Council. He was forced to step down due to his involvement in the 2017 Unite the Right rally, in which a violent mob of ultra-right wing protesters descended upon the city of Charlottesville. Heather Heyer, an anti-fascist counter-protester was killed during this event after neo-Nazi James Alex Fields ran her over with his car.

The January 6 select committee was a bipartisan committee in the US House of Representatives composed of mostly Democrats and a few Republican politicians. It was formed to investigate the January 6 US Capitol attack in 2021. On January 6, a mob of Trump supporters stormed and broke into the US Capitol as Congress was certifying the electoral college votes from the 2020 presidential election, which Joe Biden won. After Donald Trump lost in 2020 to Biden, Trump rejected the results, inflaming his supporters by claiming that the election was “stolen,” leading to the mob storming the Capitol. Trump spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally outside of the White House on January 6, right before the attacks. 

“Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country,” Trump says, encouraging his Vice President to support him in claiming the election was stolen. “And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you.” As Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, one of their many chants was “hang Mike Pence!”

Bannon was convicted of two charges of contempt of Congress, one for refusing to give testimony at the January 6 select committee and refusing to hand over relevant documents to the committee.

Despite his sentence, Bannon will most likely remain free for over a year, as sentencing judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, allowed Bannon to remain free pending appeal which will most likely push his jail term back for a year or longer. This treatment is inconsistent with the experience of poor and working people caught in the US prison system. Up to 19 people in Florida were arrested in August for the crime of voting. At least one of the arrestees, Tony Patterson, was given a $1,000 bond and sent straight to police custody.

Trump’s post-election strategy of denying the validity of the electoral process seems to have been enthusiastically embraced by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Months ahead of the elections, Bolsonaro was already denouncing the election process as fraudulent.

Bannon himself claimed that Bolsonaro would be victorious in the 2022 Brazilian elections “unless it’s stolen by, guess what, the machines.” Bolsonaro has specifically targeted his election fraud accusations at the electronic voting machines used in Brazilian elections. Brazil’s voting system is highly efficient, with mandatory voting, voting scheduled on weekends, and without a credible case of fraud in 25 years. Bannon made this claim at a 2021 conference that was dedicated to promoting Trump’s stolen election theory. The conference was also attended by Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo.