The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol will move to hold former White House strategist Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for defying a subpoena.
CNN reports that Bannon “was scheduled for a deposition in front of the committee on Thursday, and Bannon’s lawyer wrote in a letter the day before to the panel saying that his client will not provide testimony or documents until the committee reaches an agreement with former President Donald Trump over executive privilege or a court weighs in on the matter.”
In a statement, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the committee, said, “Mr. Bannon has declined to cooperate with the Select Committee and is instead hiding behind the former President’s insufficient, blanket, and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke. We reject his position entirely.”
“The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt. I’ve notified the Select Committee that we will convene for a business meeting Tuesday evening to vote on adopting a contempt report,” he added.
JUST IN: Contempt proceedings against Bannon to begin Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/Q9rA5QIsdC
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) October 14, 2021
The committee will hold a business meeting on Oct. 19 to decide whether to adopt a contempt report. If it is adopted, the report will go to the House for a vote, and if it is passed by the chamber, it would be referred to the Department of Justice.
As The Hill notes, “A referral would put the ball in DOJ’s court, requiring the executive branch to determine how aggressive it wants to be in pursuing Bannon.”
Last month, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said that the Biden administration appears to be willing to pursue criminal contempt charges and that the committee might move to hold those who defy subpoenas in contempt.
“Certainly there will be some who will not be cooperating with us, and I’m not referring to the current administration, but members of the past administration. We have to anticipate that,” Schiff said.
He added, “Until we have passage of the Protect Our Democracy Act, there will still be opportunities [for those people] to draw things out in court. So that is a concern. But we may have additional tools now that we didn’t before, including a Justice Department that may be willing to pursue criminal contempt when people deliberately flout compulsory process.”
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