Steve Bannon, a former aide to the White House during the Trump administration, has been ordered to pay nearly $500,000 in unpaid attorneys fees.
Arlene Bluth, a judge in Manhattan Supreme Court, ordered Bannon to pay $480,487 to Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, a law firm in New York. Bluth also awarded the firm fees that it incurred while suing Bannon so they could get what was rightfully theirs.
The firm worked on Bannon’s behalf between November of 2020 and November of 2022.
In his arguments, Bannon said that the retainer fee that the law firm had didn’t authorize them to charge for any work that was related to four legal cases. He also added that he never “personally received” bills from the firm or paid for the invoices by himself.
Yet, the judge fired back, saying that Davidoff Hutcher & Citron was actually paid $375,000 by Bannon for work they did for him, before he decided to stop paying them.
As Bluth wrote in her ruling:
“Clearly someone affiliated with defendant was getting these invoices and defendant admits he instructed his team to pay plaintiff. [Bannon] cannot receive the benefit of plaintiff’s legal representation and then insist he need not for it.”
Harlan Protass, the lawyer who represented Bannon in this case, disagreed with the decision vehemently, and told media outlets on Monday that they “intend to immediately appeal.”
In response to that, one of the lawyers at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, Robert Costello, said that if Bannon “appeals, of course, the meter is running” on all the unpaid legal fees he still owes them.
Bluth added a 1% interest on those legal fees. Costello, though, said that rate will increase all the way to 9% per year once they file more court documents post-judgment, and it’s possible that Bannon could owe the firm additional legal fees if he ends up losing that appeal.
This civil lawsuit is just the first one that Bannon will face in this very same courtroom.
A criminal trial against him is set to kick off in May of 2024. That case revolves around allegations that Bannon defrauded donors to collect money to help build a border wall between the United States and Mexico. He’s been accused of using much of that money for his own personal benefit.
Bannon pleaded not guilty to all the criminal charges against him.
The former White House aide received a federal pardon from former President Donald Trump in the final days of his presidency in January of 2021. Three of Bannon’s co-defendants in that federal case were either convicted of their charges or pleaded guilty.
The Trump pardon means that Bannon won’t have to face those charges on a federal level, but a presidential pardon doesn’t extend to state-level charges, which is what Bannon is facing in New York now.
In addition to those two cases, Bannon is also currently appealing a conviction that came out of a federal court in Washington, D.C., for contempt of Congress. He was sentenced to spend four months in jail for refusing to comply with a subpoena that the House special committee that investigated the Capitol riot issued him.