Steve Bannon’s Lawyer Sues Him Over Unpaid Bills

After initially scrambling to counter a Daily Beast story that he wasn’t paying his lawyers, the notorious right-wing media personality Steve Bannon has been sued for owing a single New York attorney a whopping $480,487.

On Friday, the Manhattan firm of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron took the rare step of suing its former client over unpaid bills for a mountain of work a lawyer did defending him for two years against Congress, the feds, and a local district attorney.

On top of the half million dollars he allegedly owes, the firm is now asking that a New York judge force Bannon to pay interest—plus the cost of the lawyer who filed this lawsuit.

The firm says it “performed various legal services for [Bannon] in a competent and professional manner” and deserves to get paid for it.

Earlier this month, The Daily Beast revealed that Bannon stiffed two lawyers who ran up huge legal bills while defending him at a 2022 trial over the right-winger’s refusal to testify before the House Jan. 6 Committee. Those attorneys, Robert Costello of New York and M. Evan Corcoran of Baltimore, declined to comment. It was Costello’s firm that sued Bannon last week. It’s unclear if Corcoran’s firm will take similar action.

Bannon’s miserly attitude toward his own legal team baffled the three sources who spoke to The Daily Beast about the matter on condition of anonymity, all of whom noted that Bannon runs a popular conspiracy-spewing podcast and appears to be backed by Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui. What’s more, Bannon himself is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker, co-founded the right-wing news website Breitbart, and made millions off the sitcom Seinfeld.

According to the lawsuit filed by Costello’s firm, Bannon has only paid $375,000 of his $855,487 legal bill to that one firm.

Bannon owes an untold amount to Corcoran’s firm, Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White, but a source familiar with the situation suggested that the total is less than what’s owed to Costello in New York.

Bannon’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Costello and Corcoran declined to comment.

The reason he owes so much to Costello is because the former federal prosecutor has stuck by Bannon’s side ever since the world started crashing on the far right agitator. Costello first started representing Bannon in Dec. 2020, when the Department of Justice targeted him over a nativist GoFundMe to build a privately funded wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Bannon was accused of secretly enriching himself with donations to the nonprofit effort, and the feds criminally charged him with money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. It was Costello who worked on the pardon Bannon ultimately received from former President Donald Trump, which conveniently sidelined the investigation and gave him a clean slate.

Then Costello kept the House Jan. 6 Committee at bay when the congressional panel subpoenaed Bannon to testify about his central role in the so-called “Green Bay Sweep,” a plan developed by MAGA diehards to keep Trump in the White House by overturning the 2020 election. Costello continued to represent Bannon—now alongside fellow lawyer Corcoran—when the DOJ criminally charged him with contempt of Congress over his decision to ignore that subpoena.

The Daily Beast has previously revealed how Costello took on particular risk in that investigation, because the FBI made the controversial decision to secretly seize the lawyer’s communications—a move that potentially crossed an ethical boundary. Special agents also quietly listened in on Costello’s negotiations with DOJ lawyers, turning what is normally an informal dialogue between defense attorneys and prosecutors into an official investigative interview.

That skirmish has largely been swept under the rug, and Bannon was convicted of contempt of Congress. The federal judge who sentenced him held off on sending him to jail pending appeal.

Friday’s lawsuit says Costello’s firm stopped billing Bannon for work last November, though court documents in Bannon’s federal appeal make clear that Costello continues to seek answers over the DOJ’s decision to spy on him.

When The Daily Beast initially broke the news that Bannon hadn’t been paying his lawyers, his representatives initially contested that assertion. A third lawyer on the contempt of Congress trial, David Schoen of Alabama, affirmed that he indeed had been paid.

But as a result, it became clear that Bannon was willing to pay one lawyer while stiffing the rest. Days later, Costello’s firm sued.

The lawsuit is a stain that could frustrate Bannon’s current search to find yet additional lawyers to represent him—this time over a revived version of the “We Build The Wall” investigation. Last September, the Manhattan District Attorney charged him with local crimes for scamming New Yorkers, an attempt to circumvent Trump’s presidential pardon. Schoen and New York lawyer John W. Mitchell represented him in that case, although both suddenly decided to hit the eject button in January, citing a total “communication breakdown.” Justice Juan Merchan ordered them to stay on the case for now, albeit only on paper.

Bannon has until the end of February to find new lawyers.

Justin Rohrlich contributed to this report.

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