Trump ally Steve Bannon loses appeal of conviction for defying Jan. 6 probe

By Andrew Goudsward

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday upheld the conviction of Steve Bannon, a former top adviser to former President Donald Trump, for defying a subpoena from the congressional panel that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The ruling brings Bannon a step closer to serving a four-month prison sentence for contempt of Congress, but he can still mount additional appeals.

Bannon was convicted in 2022 of two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents or testify to the House of Representatives committee that investigated the Capitol riot.

He has been allowed to remain free during his appeal.

Bannon, a key figure on the American right, argued on appeal that his lawyer advised him he did not have to comply with the subpoena and therefore he did not intend to commit a crime.

Bannon's argument would "hamstring Congress's investigatory authority," by making it more difficult to prosecute witnesses who spurn congressional investigations, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found.

A lawyer and spokesperson for Bannon did not immediately respond to requests for comment. He can appeal the ruling to the full D.C. Circuit court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Democrat-led House panel investigated Trump's efforts to subvert the 2020 election results, which culminated on Jan. 6, 2021 when a mob of his supporters breached the Capitol in an attempt to stop the formal certification of the vote.

The committee sought information from Bannon, who predicted on a podcast the day before the riot that "all hell is going to break loose tomorrow."

Bannon refused to cooperate with the committee's probe, which he attacked as politically motivated.

Former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro is currently serving a four-month prison sentence for defying a subpoena from the same committee.

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Additonal reporting by Sarah N. Lynch. Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)