This week, former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon was indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, which demanded documents and testimony from the former president’s ally. Bannon tied his refusal to claims from Trump himself that executive privilege covers what the committee is after, but Bannon didn’t even work for the executive branch — or the federal government at all — in the time period under consideration. He held no government position, so claiming executive privilege — a concept generally used to shield internal government deliberations — isn’t exactly a solid argument.
On CNN, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said after the news of the Bannon indictment broke that he hoped that the charges “send a chilling message” to those who may be inclined to respond similarly to subpoenas from the riot investigation committee. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark have already made shows out of refusing to substantively comply with subpoenas from the panel. In theory, they could be next for contempt referrals — and criminal charges.
Kinzinger pointedly commented as follows, discussing the Bannon indictment:
‘I think it sends a really important message to future invited witnesses, future folks that are subpoenaed. You can not ignore Congress. The reality is, you may not like it — you may not like the investigation. You may think nothing wrong was done, but you’re not going to be able to avoid it. And that is important for the people of the United States to be able to have their voice heard, to be able to get answers through Congress… I hope it sends a chilling message to anybody else that was going to follow through like this.’
Check out Kinzinger’s comments below:
GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a member of the Jan. 6 select committee, on Steve Bannon getting indicted: “It sends a really important message to future invited witnesses, future folks that are subpoenaed. You cannot ignore Congress. … I hope it sends a chilling message.” pic.twitter.com/TPJ5fdFtmL
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) November 12, 2021
Bannon is expected to surrender to authorities on Monday in connection with his charges, and NBC notes that, if convicted, he could face up to a year in prison and a fine of as much as $100,000. No matter the consequences, the commitment to opposing the House committee’s investigation by Trump and his allies is persisting. Interestingly, though, it didn’t appear (based on the absence of such remarks from his key spokesperson’s Twitter page) as though Trump had made any public statement on the matter of Bannon’s criminal contempt charges as of early Saturday, the day after the case first emerged.