Monday, January 24

House of Representatives Condemns Trump Ally Steve Bannon for Criminal Contempt of Congress | House of Representatives


The House voted Thursday to hold former Donald Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol of 6 from January.

The passage of the contempt citation, by 229 votes to 202 against, intensifies the select committee’s efforts to punish Bannon for his non-compliance while intensifying its investigation into whether then-President Trump helped plan or had prior knowledge of the insurrection.

House Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, the Democratic Congressman from Mississippi, said the authorization of the criminal referral against Bannon signaled his determination to implement his most aggressive measures to take action against both Bannon and any other Trump aides. that may ultimately challenge the subpoenas.

“We need to make it clear that no person is above the law, we have to defend the committee’s investigation and the integrity of this body,” Thompson said in the House of Representatives.

“What kind of precedent would it set for the House of Representatives if we allow a witness to ignore us, outright, without facing any kind of consequences? What message would you send to other witnesses in our investigation? I’m not willing to find out, ”he added.

The move to ask the Justice Department to prosecute Trump’s former chief strategist also marks a harsh personal rebuke to Bannon, and opens a new legal front in the select committee’s efforts to seek information within Trump and White House circles. before January 6.

Members of the select committee recommended that the House hold Bannon in criminal contempt after they unanimously rejected the idea that Trump’s former chief strategist could claim absolute immunity from congressional oversight on grounds of executive privilege.

The select committee had issued subpoenas last month to Bannon and top Trump administration officials, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, his deputy Dan Scavino and former defense department aide Kash Patel, under threat of prosecution.

But when Trump and his attorney ordered him to defy the orders, Bannon ignored his subpoena in its entirety, infuriating the select committee which then immediately proceeded to vote to recommend that the House find him in contempt of Congress.

The referral arrived Thursday night at the United States Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. That office, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and the Office of Legal Counsel are required by law to weigh an indictment and present the matter to a grand jury.

If the Justice Department achieves a conviction against Bannon, the consequences could mean up to a year in federal prison, $ 100,000 in fines, or both, though it still wouldn’t enforce it and pursuing the misdemeanor charge could take years.

The select committee considers Bannon’s testimony crucial to its investigation, as he was in constant contact with Trump in the days and weeks leading up to the attack on Capitol Hill.

Bannon was one of the key architects, along with Trump’s first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and attorney John Eastman, of the plan to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory and attempt the extraordinary move to return Trump to the Oval Office, according to a source familiar with the matter.

That meant Bannon was involved in meetings with the Trump campaign, and potentially even Trump himself, at the Trump International Hotel and the Willard Hotel in Washington the night before the attack on the Capitol.

Bannon also appeared to predict the attack on the Capitol itself, saying on his War Room podcast the day before the insurrection that left five dead and 140 wounded, including dozens of police officers, lawmakers and staff who fear for their lives: he’s going to get loose tomorrow. “

In opening remarks before the vote to recommend impeachment of Bannon, Republican Select Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney suggested that the reason for her non-compliance could be because she feared compromising Trump.

However, Bannon and Trump’s privilege arguments seem to reveal one thing: they suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6. And we’ll get to the bottom of that, ”Cheney said.

But despite the stakes, Bannon informed the select committee that he would not cooperate with his Sept. 23 subpoena and claimed that the materials and testimony requested by the panel were protected by executive privilege and could not be delivered to Congress.

The select committee rejected that argument Tuesday.

Bannon’s legal argument also faces a steep uphill fight, and Biden’s justice department seems inclined to adopt a narrow interpretation of executive privilege, previously allowing top Trump justice department officials to testify before Congress. around January 6.

In the Bannon contempt report, the select committee noted that they had requested documents and testimony about his contacts with members of Congress and the Trump campaign, which could not possibly be covered by a White House secrecy shield.

The contempt report noted that even if the select committee accepted his executive privilege claim, it still would not have allowed him to ignore the subpoena since protection exists for White House officials, and Bannon was fired by Trump in 2017.


www.theguardian.com

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