Steve Bannon set to begin 4-month prison sentence for defying congressional subpoena – CNN

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CNN
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Steve Bannon, a former Donald Trump White House strategist, is set to report to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut, on Monday to begin a four-month sentence for defying a congressional subpoena.

Bannon will be the second former Trump aide to be imprisoned for a contempt of Congress conviction after Peter Navarro began serving a four-month sentence earlier this year.

Both men were convicted for not complying with subpoenas issued to them by the now-defunct House Select Committee that investigated January 6, 2021. The Supreme Court on Friday denied a long-shot effort by Bannon to avoid reporting to prison while he challenges his conviction before the federal appeals court in Washington, DC.

Bannon has said that he was not thumbing his nose at the House committee but rather relying on advice from his attorneys to not respond to the subpoena until lawmakers worked out Trump’s claims of executive privilege in the matter. Courts did not allow him to argue that to the jury that decided his case.

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The conservative podcaster has remained a staunch Trump ally and is a vocal supporter of his presidential reelection bid.

‘More powerful in prison’

The MAGA media firebrand was keeping a busy schedule in the days before his prison sentence. He tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Trump to skip the CNN presidential debate last week. He continued to host his far-right podcast where he has vowed to get revenge on his political enemies and imprison the current leadership of the Justice Department.

And he welcomed several mainstream media reporters to join him during his broadcasts, all while peddling his narrative of political martyrdom.

“I’m going to be more powerful in prison than I am now,” Bannon said last week.

His public persona has been one of indifference — unbothered and unafraid of his time at the federal facility.

“I’m not going to be sitting there going, ‘Oh, woe is me,’” Bannon told CNN.

Sources close to Bannon painted a different picture, describing a man vacillating between denial that he would be spared a prison term and apprehension about what life behind bars would entail.

For criminal defendants, there are worse prisons to end up in than the facility where Bannon will spend the next four months. Danbury has a relatively small prison population, with fewer than 1,200 male and female inmates.

The low-security facility where Bannon will be housed is populated with white-collar criminals, though it can also include some violent offenders and sex offenders. The commissary offers various snacks from peanut butter to plantain chips, according to an online list.

But Bannon’s universe is about to shrink.

Inmates don’t have access to the Internet, according to people familiar with the prison. Those in custody at Danbury can send emails without attachments, but they pass through a monitored system, on a delay. The Federal Bureau of Prisons code bars inmates from conducting a business while incarcerated.

In addition to email access, inmates at Danbury receive hundreds of phone minutes per month, which they can use in 15-minute increments on a wall-mounted phone. Once the monthly minutes are exhausted, there’s no option to reup them.

It’s a far cry from broadcasting to the Trump faithful for hours each day. Still, Bannon insisted his “War Room” media platform would thrive even in his absence.

“We’re a populist movement. This is all about the audience,” Bannon said. “Whether I never come back ever to the ‘War Room’ won’t make a difference.”

He had lofty expectations that he, too, would thrive in the coming months.

“I’m working 24/7 on this campaign,” said Bannon, who does not have a formal role in Trump’s 2024 campaign but has remained one of the former president’s most strident supporters, even after he was fired from the Trump White House.

“I will have a much bigger impact on the campaign when I’m in prison than I have now,” he said.

For now, though, Bannon is poised to go through an intake process on Monday that’s familiar to inmates at Danbury. He’ll pass through a metal detector and undergo a strip search. Afterward, he’ll take part in a mental health evaluation. He’ll then be taken to his housing unit, provided with a bedroll, assigned to a bed and left to acclimate to life behind bars.

That life won’t include clinging to letters from his fans, Bannon said.

“You must focus 100% of your time on winning,” he said of those who might be inspired to send notes of support to his cell.

“Don’t send me a letter, because I’m not going to read it,” he added.

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