Bannon, Navarro only exec branch officials imprisoned for ‘contempt of Congress’

By Alicia Powe

Steve Bannon, center, urges Americans to step up to fight for freedom as he begins his four-month prison sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, Monday, July 1, 2024. (Video screenshot)
Steve Bannon, center, urges Americans to step up to fight for freedom as he begins his four-month prison sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, Monday, July 1, 2024.

WASHINGTON – As conservative firebrand Steve Bannon surrendered to authorities at Connecticut’s Federal Correctional Institution Danbury to serve four months for contempt of Congress, WorldNetDaily examined the Justice Department’s history of prosecutions for contempt of Congress and discovered a blatantly two-tiered justice system.

Indeed, Bannon and Peter Navarro, both former high-level Trump advisers, are the only former officials of the executive office to be prosecuted and imprisoned for contempt of Congress in history, although it has become the norm as the Biden administration continues to target its political opposition.

The two Trump allies are among just a handful of offenders in decades to ever see a day in prison for the crime. Before Bannon and Navarro, no one had been incarcerated for contempt of Congress in over 60 years.

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The last such prosecution before Bannon occurred in 1961 when communist activists Frank Wilkinson, Carl Braden and folk singer Pete Seeger were sentenced to prison for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, or HUAC.

Back in 1947, the “Hollywood Ten” – movie writers, directors, producers and leaders of the film industry – refused to tell the controversial HUAC whether they were communists.

HUAC heard testimony that year from anti-communist “friendly” witnesses including the vice president of Warner Bros. who warned that his writers were injecting “un-American leanings” into scripts for his studio. The hearings reportedly concluded with Walt Disney testifying that communists once “took over my studio.”

The congressional panel ultimately held 10 filmmakers with contempt and a federal grand jury indicted all of them. They appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case. By 1950, all 10 men had been sentenced to prison, eight of them receiving a one-year sentence and $1,000 fine – equivalent to about $12,000 today – and two of them receiving a six-month prison sentence.

Ironically, two of the Hollywood Ten reportedly served their time at FCI Dansbury, where Bannon is housed.

Then in 2010, Harriet Miers, a political appointee of the George W. Bush administration, was charged with contempt of Congress, but Miers served just one day in jail following a plea agreement.

As what many consider to be today’s rogue, weaponized Justice Department makes an example of the former Trump advisers, 15 Cabinet officials in the Biden administration are currently defying congressional subpoenas.

Peter Navarro
Peter Navarro

The Committee on House Administration is seeking documents related to Biden’s executive order instructing federal agencies to assist in voter registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns. Chairman of the committee Rep. Bryan Steil, R.-West Virginia, issued the subpoenas to the 15 Cabinet members on June 13. The agency chiefs, including Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilseck, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have all ignored the June 26 deadline.

In 2015, Former IRS official Lois Lerner, in charge of overseeing tax-exempt organizations, notoriously weaponized the agency, yet refused to answer questions during testimony before Congress. Nevertheless, the U.S. attorney did not pursue any charges against Lerner relating to her contempt of Congress, and the DOJ ultimately concluded its investigation with no charges relating to the scandal.

When President Donald Trump took office, House Republicans again sought prosecution over the IRS’s naked abuses, but the Justice Department, then led by former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, declined.

Then in 2012, former attorney general Eric Holder was famously held in contempt by Congress for not furnishing certain documents related to the “Fast and Furious” gun-running sting operated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

That vote occurred in 2012, but the subpoena fight was only settled last month, years later. At the time of the vote, most Republicans in Congress staged a walkout and did not take part.

On Sept. 13, 2016, former State Department IT specialist Bryan Pagliano, who installed Hillary Clinton’s private email server, refused to testify before Congress. His case was referred to the Department of Justice, but Pagliano was granted immunity as part of a probe into the email system.

Selective prosecution violates the constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of law under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. During the Biden administration, many cite selective prosecution when the Executive Branch repeatedly prosecutes conservatives primarily for their political beliefs, while letting others, particularly Democrats, go unpunished.

Bannon was prosecuted for contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the J6 House Select Committee – widely regarded as an illegitimate committee for being in blatant violation of House rules. Removing a powerful and influential pro-Trump voice just a few months before the historic 2024 presidential election provides an obvious political motivation.

Indeed, Bannon and Navarro have joined the company of nearly 1,500 other Americans targeted by the Biden administration for their alleged role in the “insurrection” that ensued on Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress certified an obviously tainted election, and police bombed, gassed, shot at and killed Trump supporters.

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