During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated that she supports a criminal prosecution of top Trump ally Steve Bannon over his recent defiance of a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. Bannon is suspected to have had some sort of advance knowledge of the impending violence on January 6, when the Capitol riot took place, which would make his testimony to the committee especially noteworthy. Bannon was also in direct contact with Trump in the time before the violence, allowing him to provide a firsthand perspective on what the then-president was doing, which is a particularly critical line of inquiry.
Responding to those who have complained about the unique nature of the riot investigation, Pelosi pointed out that there’s not exactly a precedent for a president inciting a riot at the Capitol, so what could be perceived as drastic measures are warranted. Asked directly whether she believes that people who refuse to comply with subpoenas from Congress should be prosecuted by the Justice Department and sent to prison, Pelosi replied with the following:
‘Yes… Well first of all — people say, well this [sort of investigation] hasn’t happened before. We haven’t had an insurrection incited by the President of the United States and one of his toadies having advance knowledge of that happening [before]. So in fact, it’s important for a number of reasons. It’s important for us to find the truth about what happened on January 6 — an assault on our Constitution, our Congress, and our Capitol. But it’s also important to, in terms of the separation of power… for this to happen in this way.’
The House as a whole has already approved a finding of contempt against Bannon, and whether to prosecute him is within the purview of the Justice Department. Notably, though, former top Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark will be testifying to the riot investigation committee soon after his own subpoena, and although a connection between that impending testimony and the unfolding consequences for Bannon’s defiance wasn’t immediately clear, Clark may have taken notice and been hoping to avoid his own contempt proceedings.
On CNN, Pelosi also spoke of the importance of passing new federal protections for voting rights. During a recent CNN town hall, President Joe Biden indicated that he’d be open to changes to the Senate’s filibuster rules in order to allow for the enactment of voting rights protections. At present, those rules demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward on most bills, meaning that Republicans can block progress.
As the House Speaker put it:
‘The most important vote right now in the Congress of the United States is the vote to respect the sanctity of the vote, the fundamental basis of our democracy. If there were one vote that [reforming] the filibuster could enable to go forward, that would be the vote. It enables so much more, because we’re talking about stopping the suppression of the vote and the nullification of the elections.’
Watch comments from Pelosi regarding this below:
Pelosi: "The most important vote right now in the Congress of the United States is the vote to respect the sanctity of the vote, the fundamental basis of our democracy. If there were one vote that [reforming] the filibuster could enable to go forward, that would be the vote." pic.twitter.com/RDK4odiL5T
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 24, 2021