Steve Bannon, former President Donald Trump’s onetime top adviser who was indicted last week for defying a congressional subpoena related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, surrendered to federal authorities and appeared in court on Monday.
Bannon turned himself in at the FBI’s Washington field office and addressed his supporters in brief remarks livestreamed on Gettr, the social media platform popular with Trump allies.
“I don’t want anybody to take their eye off the ball of what we do every day,” Bannon said directly into the camera. “We got the Hispanics coming on our side, African Americans coming on our side; we’re taking down the Biden regime.”
“I want you guys to stay focused, stay on message,” he added. “Remember, signal not noise.”
He later made a brief court appearance in federal magistrate court and is expected to return to court and be arraigned Thursday.
A federal grand jury indicted Bannon last week on two counts, one for failing to appear for a deposition with the House committee and one for failing to produce documents in response to its subpoena.
Each count carries a minimum of 30 days in jail and a maximum of one year, as well as a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000. Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will oversee the criminal case.
Talking to reporters after his court appearance, Bannon chalked the charges up to little more than a political witch hunt overseen by his political opponents.
“I’m telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell, for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden,” he said alongside his defense attorney David Schoen, who is perhaps best known for his representation of Trump during his second impeachment trial.
“Joe Biden ordered [Attorney General] Merrick Garland to prosecute me from the White House lawn when he got off Marine One,” Bannon said without offering evidence. “And we’re going to go on the offense. We’re tired of playing defense, we’re going to go on the offense on this.”
Bannon was a private citizen at the time of the insurrection, having left the Trump administration in 2017. But he remained in Trump’s orbit, and the congressional committee believes he has useful information about the events of Jan. 6 (for instance, it sought information about a meeting he attended with Trump allies at a Washington hotel the previous evening).
Bannon had argued that he was covered by an assertion of executive privilege, though legal experts say that claim falls short for two reasons: He was not in Trump’s administration at the time, and Biden, the current president, has waived privilege on matters before the House committee.
NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas told Weekend Edition Saturday that contempt charges against Bannon could persuade other Trump-era officials to comply with their subpoenas from the committee.
For instance, Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, missed a deadline to answer the panel’s questions on Friday. The committee said in response that it is considering a similar contempt of Congress referral for him as well.
This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.