A congressional committee investigating Jan. 6 has set a vote to recommend criminal contempt charges against former White House aide Steve Bannon after he defied the panel’s subpoena.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the panel will vote next Tuesday to recommend the charges. That would send the recommendation to the full House for a vote.
If the House votes to recommend the contempt charges against Bannon, the Justice Department will ultimately decide whether to prosecute. The committee had demanded documents and testimony from Bannon, who was in touch with President Donald Trump ahead of the violent attack.
“The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt,” Thompson said in a statement.
Trump was quick to slam the committee’s actions in a statement he released on Thursday afternoon through his political action group, Save America:
It read: “The January 6th Unselect Committee composed of Radical Left Democrats and a few horrible RINO Republicans is looking to hold people in criminal contempt for things relative to the Protest, when in fact they should hold themselves in criminal contempt for cheating in the Election, making up the Fake Russia, Russia, Russia, and Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine Scams, the Afghanistan debacle, the Southern Border Crisis, the crashing economy, and record-setting inflation. They are using prosecutors and prosecutions to destroy more than half of this Country and the people are not going to stand for it!”
The committee had scheduled a Thursday deposition with Bannon, but his lawyer has said at Trump’s direction he would not appear. A second witness called for a deposition Thursday, former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel, also would not appear, according to two people familiar with the confidential negotiations who were granted anonymity to discuss them. But Patel is still engaging with the committee, the people said.
Two other aides who worked for Trump — former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and longtime Trump social media director Dan Scavino — are scheduled for depositions Friday. It is unclear whether they will appear. Like Patel, Meadows is speaking with the committee.
Bannon’s testimony is just one facet of an escalating congressional inquiry, with 19 subpoenas issued so far and thousands of pages of documents flowing in. But his defiance is a crucial moment for the committee, whose members are vowing to restore the binding force of congressional subpoenas after they were routinely flouted during Trump’s time in office.
“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,” Thompson said in his statement. “We reject his position entirely.”