House Committee Backs Criminal Contempt Charges Against Bannon

The U.S. congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurgence on the Capitol voted unanimously in favor of holding Steve Bannon in contempt-of-Congress.  

The longtime aide to former President Donald Trump has refused to comply with subpoenas seeking both documents and testimony about the riot that turned into a deadly assault. 

The House of Representatives Select Committee is made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans. The representatives all voted in favor of recommending a criminal charge for Bannon, saying it was “shocking” he has refused to comply thus far. 

Their approval means the whole House of Representatives will vote on Thursday on whether to recommend contempt charges. 

The vote marks a milestone for the investigation. Committee members hope that a threat of jail time will encourage Trump’s witnesses to cooperate — something many of them have refused to do thus far. 

Rep. Liz Cheney, the deputy chair of the committee and one of the Republicans on the committee, said late Tuesday that Bannon’s refusal to cooperate suggests that Trump was indeed personally involved with the planning and execution of the riot. 

Cheney said that based on the committee’s investigation, Bannon must have had substantial advance knowledge of the insurrection, and likely had an important role in formulating those plans. 

Trump and Bannon’s insistence they can claim executive privilege to seal the records reveal that Trump was personally involved, Cheny said. 

The committee has said that the American public is entitled to Bannon’s first-hand testimony, and deserve to know the relevant facts. 

Someone found liable for contempt of Congress would be guilty of a crime that could result in a fine, as well as prison time between one month and a year. This process has rarely been invoked. 

Following the full House’s vote on Thursday, the case will be referred to the Justice Department.

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