Appeals Court Denies Bannon’s Emergency Motion to Remain Free

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected Stephen K. Bannon’s last-ditch bid to remain free while he exhausts his legal options to overturn his conviction for contempt of Congress, leaving little chance that he can further delay a four-month prison sentence that is set to start next month.

Mr. Bannon, a longtime Trump ally, was convicted in 2022 after ignoring a congressional subpoena seeking information about his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, but he had been allowed to remain free while he pursued a lengthy appeals process. That came to an end this month when the judge overseeing his case ordered Mr. Bannon to report to prison on July 1 after a federal appeals court upheld his conviction in May.

The three-judge appeals panel that denied Mr. Bannon’s emergency motion on Thursday was split, 2 to 1, with Judge Justin R. Walker dissenting. Judge Walker noted that Mr. Bannon was petitioning the Supreme Court to consider his case and wrote that he should remain free until it decides whether to hear his appeal.

Mr. Bannon’s lawyers have argued that his case involves important legal questions surrounding the separation of powers. At trial, they argued that Mr. Bannon was acting on the advice of lawyers who counseled him that he could disregard the subpoena under former President Donald J. Trump’s executive privilege. Mr. Bannon had served briefly as Mr. Trump’s top political adviser in the White House but had left the position long before the attack on the Capitol.

In the order, the court wrote that Mr. Bannon’s appeal was unlikely to succeed, as judges would have to substantially bend the law as written to conclude that he had not intentionally dismissed Congress’s attempts to get his testimony.

“He provides no basis to conclude that a higher court is likely to upend the established understanding of ‘willfully’ in the context of contempt of a clear duty to respond to congressional subpoenas,” the court wrote.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court repeatedly rejected a request by Peter Navarro, another close ally of Mr. Trump, to avoid an identical sentence for contempt related to a subpoena from the House’s Jan. 6 committee. Mr. Navarro had sought to appeal his case on grounds similar to Mr. Bannon’s.

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