Court Battles

Judge denies Steve Bannon’s request for a new trial after contempt of Congress conviction

A federal judge on Friday rejected Steve Bannon’s request for a new trial following his conviction on contempt of Congress charges, allowing his sentencing to remain on schedule for next month. 

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said in his ruling that a new trial is only warranted when a “serious miscarriage of justice” might have occurred, but Bannon’s arguments do not demonstrate that. 

Bannon’s argument mostly focused on alleged issues in instructions given to the jury, including that his theory of defense was not included in the instructions and that the court defined the meaning of the criminal statute he was accused of violating in the jury instructions. 

But Nichols said Bannon did not cite any authority that demonstrates not including the defense theory was an error, and that defining the criminal statute is “precisely” the court’s role. 

Nichols also rejected a motion from Bannon to dismiss the case entirely. Bannon argued that not being able to compel certain members of the House to testify violated his constitutional rights. 

Nichols said Bannon did not show that any potential testimony from House members would be material to the case. 

Bannon was convicted in July on two counts of contempt for refusing to testify before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and refusing to turn related documents over to the committee. He is set to be sentenced on Oct. 21. 

Bannon’s attorney, David Schoen, said there was “nothing particularly noteworthy” in Nichols’ order.

“No surprises here. No reason to believe he was going to reverse himself,” he said in an email. “The main gain from the motion for new trial was we got to see that the prosecution has absolutely no argument that supports the fundamentally wrong definition of ‘willfully’ that must lead to the reversal of the conviction.”

Updated: 2:19 p.m.

Tags contempt of congress Contempt of Congress Jan. 6 Capitol riot Steve Bannon Steve Bannon Steve Bannon

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