During an appearance on MSNBC this week, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) — who is leading the House committee investigating the Capitol riot — explained that the committee is prepared to pursue criminal contempt proceedings against individuals other than Steve Bannon, the former top Trump adviser who’s already made his refusal to comply with a subpoena from the panel clear. If other witnesses take a similar route, Thompson laid out how they can expect to face criminal proceedings as well. Bannon has cited Trump’s claims of executive privilege in his refusal to comply, but observers including committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) have rejected the notion that Trump possesses relevant privileges to invoke.
Thompson pointedly commented as follows:
‘But given the timeframe that we are dealing with, we hope that the attorney general sees the importance of moving ahead with this indictment, moving ahead with locking Steve Bannon up, moving ahead with clearing the air that you can’t conduct an insurrection on the government of the United States of America and nothing happen. So, clearly, it will be in the Department of Justice’s hand. Our committee on Tuesday evening, we will do our job, but this is just the beginning. I assure you, there are others. If they do not cooperate, they’ll suffer the same fate. But, clearly, because Mr. Bannon took Trump’s advice not to cooperate, and it’s well-documented that he was part and parcel to creating what happened, [he’ll face consequences].’
Jan. 6 committee Chairman Bennie Thompson on Bannon and other witnesses being held in criminal contempt:
"This is just the beginning. I assure you, there are others. If they do not cooperate, they will suffer the same fate." @MSNBC
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 15, 2021
As Thompson referenced, the riot investigation committee is slated to formally approve a contempt finding against Bannon on Tuesday. After that point, the matter is set to be voted on by the full House, and then, assuming that the measure is approved, it will be formally referred to the Justice Department. Being found guilty of contempt of Congress can come with tens of thousands of dollars in fines and up to a year in prison. So far, other high-profile witnesses including former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows have engaged with the committee in some capacity, but it’s clear that if that doesn’t work out, then they too could face potential criminal consequences. As Thompson himself previously put it this week, the 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.”