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House votes to hold Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon exits the Manhattan Federal Court, following his arraignment hearing for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in New York, August 20, 2020.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

The House voted Thursday to hold former Trump advisor Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena issued to him by the lawmakers investigating the deadly Capitol riot.

The contempt resolution, which was approved by all Democrats and nine Republicans, will now head to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution.

It’s unclear if prosecutors will ultimately decide to charge Bannon. Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail a maximum fine of $100,000, according to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion.

The vote came three days after former President Donald Trump filed a federal lawsuit attempting to block those investigators from obtaining White House records related to the invasion of the Capitol by hundreds of his supporters.

Trump has asserted that many of those documents are protected by executive privilege. Bannon’s attorney cited the former president’s privilege claim as the basis for his own noncompliance with the subpoena.

But President Joe Biden declined Trump’s request to withhold the records, and the select committee has rejected Bannon’s argument as an “excuse” that fails to justify his total defiance of the subpoena.

In remarks on the House floor before the vote, the committee’s leaders stressed the importance of Bannon’s importance as a key witness and defended the legitimacy of their probe against criticism from Republicans.

The panelists pointed repeatedly to Bannon’s remarks the day before the invasion, when he said, “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

That statement and others make clear that Bannon “knew what was going to happen before it did,” select committee vice chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said in a floor speech. “And thus, he must have been aware of, and may have been involved in, the planning of everything that played out on that day.”

“The American people deserve to know what he knew and what he did,” Cheney said.

The select committee, comprising seven Democrats and two Republicans, was formed after Senate republicans voted down an attempt to create an equally bipartisan, “9/11-style” commission to study the Jan. 6 riot. The panel has contacted dozens of witnesses and entities as part of its probe, and has issued subpoenas to other Trump associates including former chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Bannon is the only person to completely defy a subpoena from the committee, chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said Tuesday, just before the panel voted unanimously to push contempt proceedings forward.

The subpoena to Bannon demanded he produce documents to the committee and sit for a deposition, which was scheduled for last Thursday.

Bannon refused. In a letter to the committee, his attorney, Robert Costello, cited a message from Trump’s counsel Justin Clark, instructing Bannon not to produce any documents or testimony “concerning privileged material.”

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Read More: House votes to hold Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt

2021-10-21 15:42:29

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