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Steve Bannon's federal contempt of Congress case assigned to Trump appointee

The Justice Department charged Steve Bannon, one-time chief strategist to former President Donald Trump, with two counts of contempt of Congress on Friday for refusing to testify and provide documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol. Each count carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail, and a minimum of one month, and Bannon is expected to turn himself in to federal law enforcement on Monday. 

"Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law," Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Friday. "Today's charges reflect the department's steadfast commitment to these principles."

The judge assigned to Bannon's case, Carl J. Nichols, was appointed to the bench by Trump. And, Politico's Betsy Woodruff Swan notes, he clerked for conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas before that.

Bannon's indictment ended "an otherwise yawny week in Washington" with "a jolt," Politico reports, and it appears to have caught Bannon by surprise, too, NPR's Tom Dreisbach pointed out. 

This is Bannon's second federal indictment in two years. Before leaving office, Trump preemptively pardoned Bannon in a case tied to misusing funds donated to build a private border wall.