The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol voted unanimously Tuesday to refer former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal charges, teeing up a full House vote Thursday to hold Bannon in contempt for defying a congressional subpoena.
The move comes after Bannon refused to provide documents to the committee or appear for a slated deposition following an assertion from former President Trump that he would challenge the committee on executive privilege grounds.
Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) opened the hearing by stressing that Bannon “stands alone in his complete defiance of our subpoena.”
“It’s a shame that Mr. Bannon has put us in this position. But we won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. We believe Mr. Bannon has information relevant to our probe, and we’ll use the tools at our disposal to get that information,” he said.
“I want to make it clear just how isolated Mr. Bannon is in his refusal to cooperate with the Select Committee. We have reached out to dozens of witnesses. We are taking in thousands of pages of records. We are conducting interviews on a steady basis. This is the shoe-leather work of conducting a serious, focused investigation,” he added.
It will ultimately be up to the Justice Department to file charges against Bannon, something that could result in a fine, jail time or both.
A criminal contempt report released by the panel late Monday laid out multiple attempts by the committee to seek compliance from Bannon, only to be repeatedly rebuffed by his attorney, Bob Costello.
It also offers new insight into the information the committee was seeking from Bannon, including any possible ties to extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.
It also asks for information about his coordination with another figure who was subpoenaed, Kash Patel, who was then serving as the chief of staff to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, as well as Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who was recently highlighted as a key figure in Trump’s pressure campaign on the Justice Department in the waning days of his presidency, according to a report from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Until such time as you reach an agreement with President Trump or receive a court ruling as to the extent, scope and application of the executive privilege … Mr. Bannon will not be producing documents or testifying,” Costello wrote the committee the day before Bannon was scheduled to testify.
Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Ky.) said Bannon stands to offer considerable information to the committee.
“Based on the Committee’s investigation, it appears that Mr. Bannon had substantial advance knowledge of the plans for January 6th and likely had an important role in formulating those plans. Mr. Bannon was in the war room at the Willard on January 6th. He also appears to have detailed knowledge regarding the President’s efforts to sell millions of Americans the fraud that the election was stolen,” she said.
She also sought to poke holes in his executive privilege argument, saying no such claim could shield Bannon from testifying on all topics under the subpoena.
“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing, however: they suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th. And we will get to the bottom of that,” Cheney said.
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