Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has had his four-month prison sentence formally put on hold while he appeals the conviction.
Bannon, a onetime adviser to former President Donald Trump and a former Breitbart News executive, was sentenced to four months in prison by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols on Oct. 21 on two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress, for having refused to answer questions from or provide documents to the House Jan. 6 Committee. Bannon was also ordered to pay a $6,500 fine.
Nichols, a Trump appointee, at the time allowed Bannon to put the sentence on hold while he appeals the conviction. Bannon’s lawyer David Schoen called the decision “extraordinary” and said at the time it was “the appropriate move” to grant a stay pending appeal.
In a Monday filing (pdf), the judge formally ordered the stay of the prison sentence.
“Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3143(b), and as the Court explained at the Defendant’s sentencing hearing, the Court finds that Defendant Stephen K. Bannon (a) is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community if released and (b) that his appeal is not taken for the purpose of delay but rather raises a substantial question of law that is likely to result in a reversal or an order for a new trial,” the judge’s order reads.
“Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the sentence in this case shall be STAYED pending Stephen K. Bannon’s appeal of his conviction.”
The order means Bannon would only serve his four-month sentence if his conviction on the two counts if it is upheld by higher courts.
During Bannon’s trial in July earlier this year, Bannon’s lawyers argued that the Department of Justice were not able to prove that he committed any crime, and that Bannon didn’t ignore the House Jan. 6 subpoenas.
There is no evidence Bannon “willfully defaulted when he didn’t appear in a congressional office on Oct. 14,” attorney Evan Corcoran, representing Bannon, said in court at the time. “The date was the subject of ongoing discussion and negotiation, so the government can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Steve Bannon committed a crime.”