After he refused to submit to a subpoena, a congressional committee investigating Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection took swift action against Steve Bannon.
Chairman of the committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), said Tuesday that the panel would vote to charge Bannon with being an adviser to Donald Trump over years. He was in contact with Trump before the worst attack on Congress in 200 years.
Thompson stated in a Thursday statement that “The Select Committee will never tolerate defiance of the subpoenas.” He claimed that Bannon is hiding behind statements made by the ex-president about privileges he purportedly invoked. We completely reject his position.”
The recommendation for criminal charges would be approved by the Democratic majority committee and sent to the full House. If they are approved by the Democratic-majority committee, they would be sent to the Justice Department for prosecution.
Bannon’s confrontation is only one aspect of a larger and more complex congressional inquiry. There have been 19 subpoenas and thousands of pages of documents sent to the committee and its staff. The panel’s members have taken the initiative to challenge Bannon’s refusal and vow to restore the power of congressional subpoenas, which were regularly ignored during Trump’s presidency.
Bannon was scheduled to appear before the committee on Thursday. However, Trump’s lawyer stated that Trump had instructed him to not produce any executive privileges-protected information and that Bannon would not comply until these issues were resolved. Bannon also failed to submit documents by last week’s deadline.
The committee could still be blocked by Trump officials refusing to cooperate over the years. The House didn’t hold the long-serving Trump advisor responsible for his defiance of a subpoena in a GOP-led investigation into Trump’s Russia ties in 2018.
Although President Joe Biden supports the work of the committee, it is not clear whether the Justice Department will pursue criminal contempt charges against Bannon and any other witnesses who might challenge the panel. Even if the department decides to prosecute, it could take several months or even years. These contempt cases can be very difficult to win.
The committee members are urging the department to stand by them.
Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also serves on the Jan.6 panel. He stated that he expects the Justice Department will prosecute these cases.