January 6 investigators recommended a contempt charge against Steve Bannon. Here’s what that means.

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Criminal contempt is one of three options that Congressional panels can make to enforce their subpoenas, along with civil and implied contempt.
In the first test of the panel’s willingness to pursue such a referral, the committee voted unanimously Tuesday evening to send Trump aide Steve Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal contempt charges, Because he refused to comply with a summons deadline.

Mississippi Democrat Committee Chair Benny Thompson said before the vote, “It’s a shame that Mr. Bannon has put us in this position. But we won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” “We believe that Mr. Bannon has information relevant to our investigation, and we will use the tools at our disposal to obtain that information.”

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Here’s what criminal contempt is and how it compares to civil and implicit contempt:

criminal contempt

Now that Bannon’s criminal contempt referral has cleared the committee, it heads to the House for a vote. If that vote is successful, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi certifies the report to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.
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Under the law, this certification requires a United States attorney to “bring the matter to a grand jury for its own action,” but the Justice Department will also make its own determinations to prosecute.

Any person found liable for contempt of Congress is guilty of an offense that may result in fines and imprisonment of one to 12 months. But the process is rarely implemented and rarely jail time.

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As serious as a criminal contempt referral sounds, the House’s choice to use the Justice Department may be more of a warning shot than a solution. It can take years for a person to be held in criminal contempt through prosecution, and historically criminal contempt cases have been derailed by appeals and acquittals.

civil contempt

Unlike criminal contempt, civil contempt would ask Congress to invoke a congressional summons from the judicial branch.

In other words, Congress will seek a federal court civil decision, which states that the person is legally bound to comply with the subpoena.

During Donald Trump’s presidency, the House tried this approach several times, but the court process proceeded so slowly that it took months or even years to resolve the impasse. Some, like a House subpoena for Trump’s IRS return, are still pending before a trial judge.

implicit contempt

The third option that the panel could use to enforce its subpoena would be implicit contempt, in which the sergeant-at-arms of the House or Senate would detain or imprison the person in contempt. unless he respects the demands of Congress.

This is an extremely rare process and has not happened in modern times.

This title and story have been updated with additional development.

Granthshala’s Zachary Cohen, Ryan Nobles, Annie Grier, Whitney Wilde and Kristen Holmes contributed to this report.

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Credit : www.cnn.com

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