There Is Near Zero Historical Precedent for Biden DOJ Getting Steve Bannon Thrown In Jail

There’s almost no historical precedent for the Biden Department of Justice’s (DOJ) effort to have Steve Bannon serve time in jail for his conviction on contempt of Congress charges.

After an appeals court upheld in May Bannon’s conviction on contempt of Congress charges for ignoring a Jan. 6 select committee subpoena, the DOJ asked the district court judge who initially issued Bannon’s four-month prison sentence to order him to report to prison. Judge Carl J. Nichols agreed Thursday, ending the hold on his nearly unprecedented sentence that had been in place during his appeal.

Bannon now must report to prison by July 1. Besides former President Donald Trump aide Peter Navarro, who is currently serving a four-month sentence for contempt of Congress, one of the most recent historical precedents for such a sentence dates to the Cold War, when a group of writers, directors and producers known as the “Hollywood Ten” were sentenced to jail time for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), according to the Washington Post.

The ten believed questions posed by the HUAC violated their First Amendment rights, but the House voted to hold them in contempt in November 1947 for refusing to state whether they were members of the Communist Party, according to Politico.

Former Richard Nixon aide G. Gordon Liddy and former Nixon Attorney General Richard Kleindienst pleaded guilty to contempt of Congress charges but did not go to jail, according to the Washington Post.

“While there is a fair amount of precedent for lying to Congress, there is far less for people convicted of contempt of Congress,” John Malcolm, vice president for the Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Constitutional Government and former deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Criminal Division, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in January.

Navarro, former trade advisor to Trump, was ordered to report to a Miami prison on March 19, where he began his four-month sentence. After Navarro was indicted in June 2022, the FBI arrested him at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., when he was heading to a Nashville speaking engagement, according to Politico.

Hunter Biden, who defied a congressional subpoena in December, choosing to hold a press conference on Capitol Hill rather than sit for his deposition, has not yet been found in contempt of Congress.

Criminal defense attorney and legal analyst Philip Holloway told the Daily Caller News Foundation in December that the law “must be applied equally or it has no meaning,” arguing Hunter Biden should “be held to the same standard” as Bannon.

The House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee voted in May to advance resolutions to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for defying their request to turn over audio recordings from special counsel Robert Hur’s interview with President Joe Biden.

After the House voted to cite former President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress in 2012, Holder faced no jail time, as the DOJ did not initiate criminal prosecution.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said at the time that it is “an established principle, dating back to the administration of President Ronald Reagan, that the Justice Department does not pursue prosecution in a contempt case when the president has asserted executive privilege,” according to CNN.

“We have had constitutional executive privilege for 250 years–going back to George Washington–so the President of the United States can receive candid, confidential advice from his advisors without fear their advice will get publicly aired before courts or Congress,” Mike Davis, founder and president of the Article III Project, wrote Thursday on X. “President Biden and his Attorney General Merrick Garland have shamefully destroyed this, in their partisan quest to politicize and weaponize the Biden Justice Department to go after President Trump and his top aides.”

Bannon said Thursday outside the courthouse that there is “not a prison built or jail built that will ever shut me up.”

“They’re not going to shut up Trump, they’re not going to shut up Navarro, they’re not going to shut up Bannon, and they’re certainly not going to shut up MAGA,” Bannon said. “There is nothing that can shut me up and there is nothing that will shut me up.”


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