Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was released without bail Monday after a hearing on criminal contempt charges for defying a subpoena from a House committee investigating January’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Bannon surrendered earlier in the day to FBI agents. The 67-year-old was indicted on Friday on two counts of criminal contempt – one for refusing to appear for a congressional deposition and the other for refusing to provide documents in response to the committee’s subpoena.
Bannon did not enter a plea during the hearing. Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather released him without bail but required him to check in weekly with court officials and ordered him to surrender his passport. He is due back in court on Thursday.
If convicted, Bannon faces a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year behind bars on each count, prosecutors said. Outside the courthouse, a large inflatable rat altered to look like former President Trump was on the sidewalk as reporters waited for Bannon to leave the courthouse.
When he surrendered to the FBI earlier Monday, Bannon looked directly into the camera that was live-streaming on the social media website GETTR and urged them to remain focused.
"We're taking down the Biden regime," Bannon said, dressed in three black shirts and a green coat. "I want you guys to stay focused. ... This is all noise."
Bannon is one of more than 30 people close to the Republican former president who have been ordered by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee to testify about what happened in the run-up to Jan. 6, when thousands of people stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to prevent formal congressional certification of Trump's election loss to President Joe Biden.
House investigators hope the action against Bannon will motivate other witnesses, such as former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to testify. Bannon has refused, citing Trump's insistence — already rejected by one judge - that he has a right to keep the requested material confidential under a legal doctrine called executive privilege.
Rep. Adam Schiff, Democrat chair of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Jan. 6 panel, said he believed Bannon's indictment on two counts of contempt of Congress would sway others to drop their defiance.
"It will have a very strong focusing effect on their decision-making," Schiff told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.
This report was complied using material from Reuters and The Associated Press.
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