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Ex-Trump adviser to plead not guilty to contempt of Congress

 
Washington, Nov 18 (IANS) Steve Bannon, a one-time adviser to former US President Donald Trump, is pleading not guilty to his contempt of Congress charges, according to a court filing.

Bannon, who defied a subpoena by the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot that asked documents and deposition from him, was indicted by a federal grand jury on November 12 over two charges of criminal contempt of Congress -- one for failing to appear for a deposition before the panel on October 14 and another for refusal to provide documents before the October 7 deadline, reports Xinhua news agency.

Each count of contempt of Congress carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of $100 to $1,000.

"I do hereby waive formal arraignment and enter my plea of not guilty to the indictment," read the court filing published on Wednesday, which bears Bannon's signature at the bottom.

Bannon said he and his attorneys would participate in a virtual conference anticipated to be convened by the court on Thursday, during which he did not need to have his charges read by a judge.

Skipping a formal arraignment, however, will have to be approved by the judge.

If convicted, Bannon will face up to two years in jail and a maximum fine of $200,000, according to the Justice Department's announcement of the former advisor's indictment.

Surrendering himself to federal authorities on Monday, Bannon struck a defiant tone when briefly addressing the reporters.

"I'm telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for (Attorney General) Merrick Garland, (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (President) Joe Biden... We're going on the offense," he said.

Contempt of Congress prosecutions by the Justice Department often have been both time consuming and notoriously difficult to succeed, oftentimes ending in acquittal or dismissal on appeal.

The last time the department prosecuted a contempt referral was in 1983, during the Superfund investigation in the Ronald Reagan administration.

Then Environmental Protection Agency official Rita Lavelle was charged with contempt but her case ended in acquittal.

--IANS
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