A New York judge has ordered former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon to pay roughly $500,000 in legal bills in connection with a retainer agreement.
New York Supreme Court Judge Arlene Bluth ruled Friday that Bannon must pay the law firm that previously represented him $480,487.87 plus interest in relation to four different legal matters.
Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP sued Bannon in February, saying he had only paid $375,000 of the roughly $850,000 in total that the law firm billed him.
The firm said it had represented Bannon with regards to a subpoena sent by the House Jan. 6 committee, a criminal contempt case stemming from Bannon’s refusal to comply with the subpoena, a federal donor fraud criminal case that was dismissed after then-President Trump pardoned Bannon and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s subsequent investigation into the alleged donor scheme.
Bannon’s current lawyer, Harlan Protass, wrote in an email that the judge’s decision on the unpaid legal fees “was clearly wrong and we intend to immediately appeal.”
Among other arguments, Bannon claimed he told the firm to stop representing him after January 2022, but Bluth ruled that the firm showed Bannon continued to seek legal services after that date.
Bannon further argued the retainer agreement was limited to the federal fraud case, in which he was accused of defrauding donors to a project meant to fund the construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border, and so he didn’t owe money for the other three matters.
The agreement only explicitly listed the one donor case, but it went on to state that the firm would represent Bannon in “such various and other matters and issues as may arise from time to time.”
“This provision does not constitute a basis by which the defendant can avoid paying his legal fees as the defendant did not include any evidence that he ever told the plaintiff not to represent him in these matters,” wrote Bluth. “Put another way, the defendant cannot receive the benefit of the plaintiff’s legal representation and then insists he needs not pay for it.”
After Trump pardoned him in the federal fraud case, a Manhattan grand jury indicated Bannon in connection with the alleged scheme. Bannon pleaded not guilty.
The former Trump adviser had also claimed he did not have to pay the fees because an attorney at the law firm might be a witness in the criminal contempt case and that he had not personally received the invoices or agreed to pay the amounts.
Bannon was convicted on two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with demands from the Jan. 6 House committee for testimony and documents, and he is currently appealing.
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