Criminal Proceedings Against Steve Bannon Announced By Jan. 6 Committee

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The House committee investigating the January riot at the Capitol is launching criminal contempt proceedings against former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon over his refusal to comply with a subpoena from the panel. The move had already been talked about as a possibility, but now, it’s a go. Specifically, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the riot investigation committee, announced on Thursday that the panel would be meeting next Tuesday for the purpose of voting on the adoption of a contempt report, which is a first step towards formally holding Bannon in contempt of Congress.

Bannon has pointed to claims of executive privilege by former President Donald Trump in defending his refusals to cooperate with the riot investigation committee’s subpoena, but certain observers — including committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), have derided the idea that Trump possesses executive privilege covering the information that is being sought from Bannon. For the time under consideration, Bannon wasn’t even formally involved with the executive branch — he was merely a private citizen, meaning that no communications entirely within the executive branch are even at issue.

Thompson reiterated the committee’s rejection of Bannon’s executive privilege claims in a Thursday statement on the matter, commenting as follows:

‘Mr. Bannon has declined to cooperate with the Select Committee and is instead hiding behind the former President’s insufficient, blanket, and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke. We reject his position entirely. The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt.’

Thompson added, in part, that the riot investigation committee “will use every tool at its disposal to get the information it seeks, and witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed.” Interestingly, Thompson also added that the committee is “grateful to the many individuals who are voluntarily participating and to witnesses who are complying with subpoenas, including several who met the deadline to begin producing materials to the Select Committee.” It’s unclear which individuals Thompson is referring to when he says that people have been cooperating with subpoenas, but the he and vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) have previously revealed that Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who was also subpoenaed, was “engaging” with the committee. Thompson and Cheney presented this as different from Bannon’s obstruction.

Going forward, the contempt report that the riot investigation committee is adopting next week will “[document] the inquiry, the attempts to accommodate the witness’s production or testimony, and the failure by the witness to appear, produce, or answer a pertinent question,” a press release from the committee explains. Following the committee’s action, it will be up to the full House to vote on the matter, at which point House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will be tasked with formally dispatching it to the U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., who has the “duty” under federal law to “bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.” Read more regarding these developments at this link.