Steve Bannon’s nihilist fight with the Jan. 6 Committee—in which the right-wing podcaster and one-time Donald Trump adviser ignored a congressional subpoena and ended up convicted of a crime—cost him more than half a million dollars.
And that’s not to mention the four-month jail sentence he’ll start if his appeal fails or the $6,500 fine that goes along with it.
Instead, Bannon’s $601,000 bill comes entirely in the form of legal bills—most of which remain unpaid to this day.
Documents filed in New York state court detail just how Bannon racked up such a tab engaging in a futile—and ultimately failed—legal battle against the bipartisan Jan. 6 panel, which sought answers about Bannon’s role in the violent MAGA assault on the Capitol Building.
Unlike dozens of witnesses who showed up—some of whom simply refused to answer questions—Bannon just didn’t appear. He proudly resisted all attempts to get him to sit down with congressional investigators, instead leaving it up to his New York lawyer to write defiant letters to the panel and federal prosecutors.
Those few letters and phone calls alone cost Bannon $127,137, according to a Daily Beast tally of figures in court filings. And they too served as a pointless exercise, as Bannon’s defense attorney Robert Costello’s entreaties to Jan. 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and prosecutors went unheeded when the panel held him in contempt of Congress and the Justice Department decided to criminally charge him.
It’s extremely rare for the public to get an inside look at exactly how much it costs to fight Congress and the feds, but Bannon’s legal bills are now on full display. That’s because he refused to pay his own attorneys—and thoroughly pissed them off too.
That lawsuit claimed that Bannon still owed his Long Island defense lawyer Costello some $480,487. But Costello’s firm, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, has since submitted its accounting records into the court file.
Those documents purport to show how Costello was furiously at work trying to hold off Thompson’s committee and the feds just a day after Bannon was issued a congressional subpoena on Sept. 23, 2021, in which lawmakers demanded Bannon testify about his role in fomenting the insurrection to keep Trump in power. But the level of detail shows just what it takes to fight and lose.
For example, Bannon got charged $6,125 when Costello clocked a full day on Oct. 18, 2021 to read a new lawsuit filed by Trump asserting a baloney theory of executive privilege, write a letter to the committee asking for a delay, and review a letter from the White House notifying Bannon’s team that President Joe Biden wouldn’t assert any executive privilege—thus significantly undermining the right-winger’s excuse.
Bannon got charged another $5,950 the next day, when Costello received a letter from Thompson rejecting the podcaster’s plea for time and watched the nighttime televised hearing in which the committee voted to hold Bannon in contempt.
But the 71 pages of legal bills also show how Bannon—despite appearing to have steady financial support from a controversial Chinese billionaire and alleged fraudster—routinely fell behind on his bills. And the documents show how Costello kept diligently working on Bannon’s case, despite his client’s financial tardiness.
By the time Costello had put in nearly 300 hours of work over five months, and billed just over a quarter-million dollars, Bannon had only forked over $6,611. He paid another $120,000 during the next few months as the bills kept piling up, using his podcast company’s bank account to wire the funds. Records show that Warroom LLC’s account at TD Bank wired the money.
But he noticeably stopped paying before his federal trial started during the summer of 2022—and never paid another cent to Costello’s firm after the team lost in court.
By the end of the case, internal law firm records show that Bannon still had $480,487 outstanding.
In New York state court, Costello’s firm has pointed to its retainer agreement where Bannon signed a promise to pay the bills, a document where he listed himself at the same address as his company, Bannon Strategic Advisors, which is located in a nondescript Los Angeles shopping plaza that includes a sushi joint, a light bulb store, and a vegan restaurant.
Bannon’s current lawyer, Harlan Protass, could not be reached for comment.
The legal mess, which was entirely avoidable, promises to air a ton of dirty laundry for a right-wing extremist whose attempts to destabilize American democracy has placed him in the crosshairs of journalists, lawmakers, and law enforcement alike.
Costello also ripped into Bannon for “complicating even the simplest task” because of his “unwillingness or inability to respond in a timely manner which occurred throughout our relationship.” Costello raised a preemptive defense against any accusation that he didn’t do an effective job for his client, noting how Bannon “on multiple occasions…was extremely grateful for the services that I provided on his behalf, and publicly expressed his appreciation and praised me as a great lawyer publicly on his number one ranked podcast.”
Costello also touted how his “efforts helped lead to a pardon from President Trump,” which he said directly forced the DOJ to drop a criminal case accusing Bannon of duping nativist donors who wanted to support a privately built U.S.-Mexico wall.
Meanwhile, Bannon’s new lawyer has already previewed the defense they’ll give in court, accusing Costello of “ineffective assistance” and outright malpractice.
Unmentioned in any of these court filings is that Bannon could have avoided the misdemeanor conviction, the expensive federal trial in Washington, and any legal bills associated with trolling the Jan. 6 Committee if he would have just shown up and pleaded the Fifth—the same tactic adopted by Trump legal adviser John Eastman, the conspiracy theory show Infowars’ host Alex Jones, and the conservative Turning Point USA’s executive director Charlie Kirk.
Had Bannon done that, he would have almost certainly avoided hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid legal bills, a contempt of Congress conviction that threatens to put him in federal prison for months, and the untold headaches of his failed crusade—and the Jan. 6 Committee wouldn’t have learned anything anyway.