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Trump ally Bannon ordered to report to prison for defying Jan. 6 probe

STEVE Bannon, a former top adviser to Donald Trump, must report to prison by July 1 to serve a four-month sentence for contempt of Congress, a federal judge said.

The decision means Bannon, a right-wing media firebrand who maintains influence in Trump’s orbit, will likely be behind bars for a critical stretch of the U.S. presidential campaign as former President Trump faces Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 election.

The order by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington came after a federal appeals court last month rejected Bannon’s bid to overturn his conviction for spurning a subpoena from a congressional panel that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Bannon told reporters outside the courthouse he would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, casting his prosecution as politically motivated.

“All this is about one thing: shutting down the MAGA movement,” Bannon said, referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

Bannon was convicted in 2022 of two misdemeanour counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents or testify to the Democratic-led House of Representatives committee.

Bannon will be the second former top official from Trump’s White House to go to prison for refusing to cooperate with the committee. Peter Navarro, a former trade adviser, is currently serving a four-month term.

Bannon was allowed to avoid serving the sentence during his appeal. Prosecutors moved to end that reprieve after a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rebuffed Bannon’s challenge to his conviction.

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Bannon’s lawyers urged Nichols to keep Bannon free, arguing he could still appeal to the full D.C. Circuit Court or the U.S. Supreme Court. Bannon has argued that he was advised by his lawyer that he did not have to comply with the subpoena and therefore did not intend to commit a crime.

But Nichols said after the appeals court’s ruling, there was no longer justification to keep Bannon free.

“I can no longer conclude that his appeal raises substantial questions of law” likely to overturn his conviction, Nichols said.

Bannon, who no longer worked in the White House at the time, was part of a group of Trump advisers who sought to derail formal certification of Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

The congressional panel said he may have had knowledge of events planned for Jan. 6, 2021, when a group of Trump supporters breached the Capitol in a failed bid to stop lawmakers from certifying the vote.