Steve Bannon's Prison Sentence Explained

Steve Bannon was once one of the most powerful media executives in the country, the executive chairman of far-right media empire Breitbart. As Britannica explains, Bannon built his entire career and reputation off appealing directly to white nationalism. He stoked the flames of far-right conspiracy theories, building his news outlet to be an intensely popular hot bed for alt-right politics. Eventually, Bannon stepped down from his position at Breitbart in 2018 after controversy regarding comments he made about President Trump (via Politico). 

Bannon was Donald Trump's chief White House strategist and senior counselor for the first seven months of the presidency. Eventually, Bannon found himself involved in an investigation around the events of the January 6, 2021, capitol insurrection (via The New York Times). Bannon was held in contempt on October 21, 2021, for disobeying an inquiry subpoena, and was sentenced to four months in prison on October 21, 2022. But what are Bannon's charges? And what does his sentence mean? 

What is Steve Bannon charged with?

Numerous right-wing media pundits and politicians were responsible in propagating and contributing directly to the January 6, 2021 capitol attack. As Media Matters says, Bannon publicly boasted about directly contributing to the insurrection itself. Other such incidents related to the insurrection include Bannon conspiring with Rudy Giuliani and others to spread misinformation about the 2020 presidential election in an attempt at defrauding President Biden's legitimate win. In response to the events that transpired at the Willard Hotel, where Giuliani and other members of Trump's legal team were strategizing, Representative Bennie Thompson of the January 6 committee issued a subpoena against Bannon. 

The New York Times reports that Bannon defied the subpoena, denying any investigation into the knowledge he had about the insurrection. The court eventually found him guilty on two contempt accounts, which led to a four-month prison sentence and $6,500 fine for not complying with the court and his subpoena. The prosecution pushed for a six-month maximum penalty, citing that Bannon had disrespected American democracy. 

What's next for Steve Bannon?

Bannon's sentence is broken down into two parts. As Vox explains, Bannon did not appear for a deposition or testify before the House Select Committee as part of the subpoena and did not hand over related documents to the government when ordered to. The conviction is among the first issued by the January 6 committee for officials connected to the insurrection. It also marks a huge setback for Bannon's team and associates, who are facing upcoming trials themselves.

Before the trial, Bannon's lawyers had appealed to congressional staffers in hopes of getting the charges dropped, which was promptly rejected (via The New York Times). As for what's next for Bannon, he has another trial set to occur in November 2023 over fraud. As AP News reports, Bannon had defrauded money from donors under the guise of funding Trump's border wall. Bannon's sentence could potentially signal a wave of other January 6 conspirators being given similar sentences. He plans to appeal, and will remain free pending that appeal (per another report by The New York Times).