After Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, refused to submit documents or testimony to a subpoena, a House committee investigating the Jan. 6, Capitol insurrection voted unanimously in favor of holding former White House aide Steve Bannon out of contempt of Congress.
Trump continues to defend his supporters who broke into Capitol on that day and has tried to stop the work of the committee by telling Bannon and other people not to answer probe questions. Trump also filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop Congress from obtaining documents from the White House.
However, lawmakers made it clear that they won’t back down in gathering facts and testimony on the attack against Trump’s supporters. This attack left dozens of officers hurt and sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives. It also disrupted the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), was the chairman of the committee and said Tuesday that Bannon “stands alone” in his total defiance to our subpoena. The panel won’t take no for an explanation.
He stated that Bannon might be willing to “martyr to the disgraceful cause whitewashing the events of January 6th — of demonstrating he complete loyalty to former president,” but the contempt vote was a warning to other witnesses.
“We will not be distracted. We won’t be distracted. Thompson stated that we won’t be distracted and that we won’t be late.
The contempt resolution was sent to the House by Tuesday night vote. The full House is expected to vote on Thursday. The House would approve the matter and it would be sent to the Justice Department. This department would decide whether or not to bring criminal charges against Bannon.
According to the contempt resolution, the ex-Trump aide and podcast host does not have the legal standing to reject the committee. Trump’s lawyer argued that Bannon should not reveal information that is protected under the privilege of the former President’s Office. The committee pointed out that Bannon, who was fired in 2017 from his White House job, was a private citizen at the time he spoke with Trump before the attack. The lawmakers stated that Trump has not claimed executive privilege to the panel.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on this committee and a rare GOP critic against Trump, said that Trump’s privilege arguments and Bannon’s plan to use them as a basis for their disagreement suggest that the former president was involved in planning and execution of the day’s events.
Cheney stated, “We will get the bottom of it.”
The committee is interested in Bannon’s testimony due to his communications with Trump before the siege, his attempts to get Trump to concentrate on the congressional vote Jan. 6, and his remarks on Jan. 5 that “all hell will break loose” the following day.
The committee stated that Bannon had “multiple roles relevant to this inquiry, including his participation in the’stop-the-steal’ public relations effort that motivated attack” and “his efforts in planning political activity in advance of January 6th”, in its resolution recommending contempt.
Bannon’s claims have been rejected by the White House Biden. Deputy Counsel Jonathan Su wrote Bannon’s lawyer this Week to state that “at present we are not aware any basis for your clients refusal to appear for deposition.”
Biden answered yes when asked last week whether the Justice Department should pursue those who refuse testify. The Justice Department quickly responded, with a spokesperson saying that the department would take its own decision.
Bannon said that he requires a court order to comply with his subpoena. However, Kashyap Patel, the former White House Chief Of Staff and White House aide Kashyap Patel have been in negotiations with the committee. More than a dozen people involved in planning Trump rallies have been subpoenaed by the panel. Some of these individuals are already giving evidence and turning over documents.
Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Representative, stated that all witnesses subpoenaed were either complying with the request or acting in good faith rather than “just blowing us off”, as Bannon did.
Also, the committee conducts closed-door interviews in a voluntary setting with witnesses who have either come forward or have complied with their requests.
Raskin stated that some witnesses felt “disgraceful” about their role in the events.
There could still be more contempt votes.
“I won’t go into detail in terms of back and forth but I’ll just say that our patience isn’t infinite,” stated Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger about some witness negotiations.
Trump had sued the National Archives and the committee to stop the release of documents that the committee requested. Trump’s lawsuit was filed after Biden stated he would allow documents to be released. It claims that the August request by the panel was too broad and an “illegal, vexatious fishing expedition”.
Trump’s lawsuit seeks to invalidate the entire congressional request. He calls it too broad, burdensome, and a challenge for the separation of powers. The court is required to order the archivist to stop producing the documents.
In clearing documents for release, the Biden administration stated that the nine-month-old violent siege on the Capitol was so extraordinary that it merited to be waived the privilege that normally protects communications from the White House.