by Andrew Trunsky
The select committee investigating the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 backed a report Tuesday evening recommending that Steve Bannon, a one-time aide to former President Donald Trump, be held in contempt of Congress.
The step, approved unanimously, clears the way for the full House of Representatives to vote on whether to recommend contempt charges for Bannon, which if passed could lead to criminal prosecution charges against him. The committee subpoenaed Bannon in late September, but he has refused to comply, echoing Trump’s claims of executive privilege.
“It’s a shame that Mr. Bannon has put us in this position,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat chairing the committee, said. “But we won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. We believe Mr. Bannon has information relevant to our probe, and we’ll use the tools at our disposal to get that information.”
Thompson was echoed by Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans serving on the committee.
“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing, however,” Cheney said. “They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th. And we will get to the bottom of that.”
Despite Trump’s claims, President Joe Biden’s administration has refused to back them and has instead blocked his request to withhold relevant documents from the committee. Trump even filed a lawsuit against the committee Monday, alleging that its request for documents was illegal, a move which the White House also rejected.
“Former President Trump abused the office of the presidency and attempted to subvert a peaceful transfer of power. The former president’s actions represented a unique – and existential – threat to our democracy that can’t be swept under the rug,” said White House rapid response director Mike Gwin. “As President Biden determined, the constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.”
A full House vote could come as soon as Thursday, or whether subsequent votes to hold others subpoenaed in contempt will occur. Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former Defense Department Chief of Staff Kash Patel were also subpoenaed, but have been “engaging” with the committee thus far.