House May Hold Steve Bannon in Contempt

Committee vote is Tuesday over his refusal to appear before Jan. 6 panel
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 14, 2021 1:00 PM CDT
House Moves to Hold Bannon in Contempt
Steve Bannon speaks with reporters in New York in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)

A congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection has set a vote to recommend criminal contempt charges against former White House aide Steve Bannon after he defied the panel's subpoena. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the panel will vote Tuesday to recommend the charges, per the AP. That would send the recommendation to the full House for a vote. If the House votes to recommend the contempt charges against Bannon, the Justice Department will ultimately decide whether to prosecute. The committee had demanded documents and testimony from Bannon, who was in touch with former President Trump ahead of the attack.

“The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas,” Thompson said in a statement. The panel had scheduled a Thursday deposition with Bannon, but his lawyer said that at Trump's direction he would not appear. A second witness called for a deposition Thursday, former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel, also will not appear, according to two people familiar with the confidential negotiations. But Patel is still engaging with the committee, the people said. Two other aides who worked for Trump—former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and longtime Trump social media director Dan Scavino—are scheduled for depositions Friday. It is unclear whether they will appear.

Bannon’s testimony is just one facet of an escalating congressional inquiry, with 19 subpoenas issued so far and thousands of pages of documents flowing in. But his defiance is a crucial development for the committee, whose members are vowing to restore the binding force of congressional subpoenas after they were routinely flouted during Trump’s time in office. Other witnesses are cooperating, including some who organized or staffed the Trump rally on the Ellipse behind the White House that preceded the violent riot.

The committee's demands of Trump aides and associates are potentially complicated by Trump's vow to fight their cooperation on grounds of executive privilege. Biden has formally rejected Trump’s claim of executive privilege surrounding a tranche of documents requested from the former president’s time in the White House, and has set up the documents' potential release to Congress in mid-November. White House Counsel Dana Remus wrote to the National Archives in a letter released Wednesday that Biden believes that “an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States.” (Read more Steve Bannon stories.)

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