A US House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol uprising voted unanimously on Tuesday to hold former White House aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress after a longtime aide to former President Donald Trump. A summons for documents and testimony was disregarded.
Defending his supporters who barged into the Capitol that day, Trump aggressively tried to block the committee’s work by instructing Bannon and others not to answer questions in the investigation. Trump has also filed a lawsuit to try to block Congress from obtaining prior White House documents.
But lawmakers have made it clear they will not back down as they gather facts and testimony about an attack involving Trump supporters, which injured dozens of police officers, sent lawmakers to save their lives and President Joe Biden. Obstructed the authentication of victory.
The committee chair, Rep. Benny Thompson, D-Miss, said Tuesday that Bannon “stands alone in complete defiance of our subpoena” and that the panel would not take it for an answer.
He added that while Bannon “may prepare to be martyred for the shameful cause of the whitewash that occurred on January 6 – to demonstrate his complete loyalty to the former president,” the contempt vote is a warning to other witnesses. .
“We will not be distracted. We will not be distracted. And we will not be delayed,” Thompson said.
Tuesday evening’s vote sends the contempt motion to the full House, which is expected to vote on the measure on Thursday. House approval will refer the case to the Justice Department, which will then decide whether to pursue criminal charges against Bannon.
The contempt motion claims that Trump’s former aide and podcast host has no legal position to reprimand the committee — even as Trump’s lawyer has argued Bannon was denied information. Should not be disclosed as it is protected by the privilege of the office of the former President. The committee noted that Bannon, who was fired from his White House job in 2017, was a private citizen when he spoke to Trump before the attack. The lawmakers said Trump did not claim any such executive privileges for the panel.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney — one of just two Republicans on the committee, and a rare GOP critic of Trump — said Bannon and Trump’s privilege arguments show that the former president was “personally involved” in the planning and execution of the day’s events. Were.
“We’ll get to the bottom of it,” Cheney said.
The committee says it is following Bannon’s testimony because of his alleged communications with Trump before the siege, to focus on Congressional certification of the vote to the former president on January 6 and January 5. That was “all hell is going to break loose” the next day.
Bannon appears to have held “a number of roles relevant to this investigation, including his role in the ‘Stop the Theft’ public relations effort that prompted the attack” and “for planning political and other activities prior to January 6th”. their efforts”. ,” the committee wrote in the motion recommending contempt.
The Biden White House has also rejected Bannon’s claims, with deputy attorney Jonathan Su writing to Bannon’s attorney this week to say that “at this point we would like to hear from you about any reason for refusing to appear for your client’s statement.” Not even aware of Aadhaar.” Biden’s decision that executive privilege is not appropriate, Sue wrote, “applies to your client’s testimony and any documents your client may have.”
When asked last week whether the Justice Department should prosecute those who refused to testify, Biden said yes. But the Justice Department immediately pushed back, with a spokeswoman saying the department would make its own decisions.
While Bannon has said he needs a court order before complying with his subpoena, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former White House aide and Pentagon aide Kashyap Patel are in talks with the committee. The panel has also summoned more than a dozen people who helped plan Trump rallies before the siege, and some of them are already turning over documents and testifying.
Maryland Representative Jamie Ruskin said the other witnesses who were summoned are “either abiding or acting in good faith, as Bannon has done.”
The committee is also conducting voluntary closed door interviews with other witnesses who have come forward or immediately complied with their requests.
For some witnesses, Ruskin said, “it is a privilege and an opportunity for them to actually initiate amendments, if they were involved in these incidents.” Some of them “feel terrible about the role they played,” he said.
Still, there could be more votes of contempt.
“I won’t go into the back-and-forth details, but I’ll just say that our patience isn’t infinite,” said Illinois Representative Adam Kizinger, the other Republican on the panel about some of the witness talks.
The vote came a day after Trump sued the committee and the National Archives to fight the release of documents that the committee had requested. Trump’s lawsuit, filed after Biden said he would allow the release of the documents, claims the panel’s August request was overly broad and a “disturbing, illegal fishing campaign.”
Trump’s lawsuit seeks to invalidate the entirety of Congress’s request, calling it overly broad, unnecessarily cumbersome and a challenge to separation of powers. It requests a court injunction to prevent the archivist from producing the document.
The Biden administration, approving the documents for release, said the violent siege of the Capitol more than nine months ago was such an extraordinary circumstance that it deserved to relinquish a privilege that usually protects White House communications.
Associated Press Writers Jill…