The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection has voted to hold former White House strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying its subpoena. The measure was determined in a unanimous vote on Tuesday.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said on Tuesday that Bannon “stands alone in his complete defiance of our subpoena.” Bannon was summoned to testify and did not comply, instead sending a letter reiterating his intent to defy a subpoena seeking testimony and documents related to Jan. 6.
Trump has instructed former advisers not to cooperate with subpoenas from the committee, asking them to use any immunities they may have “to the fullest extent permitted by law.”
On Tuesday, Thompson added that though Bannon seems “willing to be a martyr to the disgraceful cause of whitewashing what happened on Jan. 6 — of demonstrating his complete loyalty to the former president,” the contempt vote will serve as a warning signal to other witnesses. He added: “We won’t be deterred. We won’t be distracted. And we won’t be delayed.”
Tuesday evening’s vote pushes the contempt resolution to the full House, which is expected to vote on Thursday. If it’s approved, it will head to the Justice Department, which will determine whether to proceed with criminal charges against Bannon.
The confrontation challenges the reach of executive privilege, which affords presidents the prerogative to keep official communications private. Trump’s lawyer has argued that Bannon should not disclose information due to it being protected by the privilege of the president’s office. The committee asserts that Bannon was a private citizen when he spoke to Trump ahead of the Jan. 6 attack. (Bannon was fired from his White House position in 2017.)
Bannon “appears to have had multiple roles relevant to this investigation, including his role in constructing and participating in the ‘stop the steal’ public relations effort that motivated the attack” and “his efforts to plan political and other activity in advance of Jan. 6,” the committee stated in the resolution recommending contempt.