Steve Bannon pleading not guilty to contempt of Congress charges

Steve Bannon pleading not guilty to contempt of Congress charges
Alex Brandon/AP

Steve Bannon is pleading not guilty to the criminal contempt of Congress charges against him, according to a notice filed in federal court on Wednesday.

The notice came in advance of a hearing set for Thursday morning — scheduled to be Bannon’s first appearance before US District Judge Carl Nichols, who will oversee his case and any potential trial for contempt for failing to testify or turn over documents in the House’s January 6 investigation. Bannon said he did not need to have his charges read by the judge in open court, according to the filing.

This should mean the court could skip a formal arraignment Thursday. The virtual status conference scheduled for the morning would then be a simple check-in with the judge to discuss timing and other procedural steps in the case.

Bannon’s plea kicks off court proceedings for what he has promised will be an acrimonious defense.

The ex-adviser to former President Donald Trump had appeared in court on Monday after being charged last week with one count related to his refusal to appear for a deposition and another related to his refusal to produce documents to the House select committee. Each count carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of up to $100,000, the Department of Justice said.

“I’m telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for (Attorney General) Merrick Garland, (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden,” Bannon told reporters after the hearing, swearing his team is “going to go on the offense.”

Prosecutors did not seek to detain him before trial. Under conditions approved by the judge, Bannon agreed to weekly check-ins, to surrender his passport, provide notice of any travel outside the district and seek court approval for travel outside the continental United States.

The House select committee had subpoenaed documents and testimony from Bannon in early October. In seeking his cooperation, the panel has pointed to reports that Bannon spoke to Trump in the lead-up to the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, that he was present in the so-called war room of Trump allies at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, as the attack was unfolding and that he made comments on his podcast the previous day predicting that “all hell” was “going to break loose” the next day.

“In short, Mr. Bannon appears to have played a multi-faceted role in the events of January 6th, and the American people are entitled to hear his first-hand testimony regarding his actions,” the House committee said in its report putting forward a contempt resolution.

This story has been updated with additional information Wednesday.

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