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January 6 Committee to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt for Evading Subpoena

Steve Bannon delivers a speech during a meeting to discuss the Marrakesh Treaty in Brussels, Belgium, December 8, 2018. (Eric Vidal/Reuters)

The select committee probing the mob riot that descended on Capitol Hill on January 6 said Thursday that it will hold former Trump advisor Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for evading a subpoena.

“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,” committee chairman Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson said in a statement Thursday.

Bannon was supposed to appear for a deposition before the committee on Thursday, but did not attend after his attorney informed the panel in a letter that he would not testify or present records until the executive privilege situation with Trump was determined or until the court ruled on the case.

Bannon’s lawyer cited a case that decided that “The President” can grant executive privilege to certain individuals therefore making them immune from demands for forfeiture of information. However, other legal experts have argued that the privilege expires when the president who offered it leaves office, which Trump did after losing to now President Biden in the 2020 election.

“We reject his position entirely,” Thompson added. “The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt.”

Committee members have signaled that they will issue criminal referrals against uncooperative witnesses. Investigators are targeting multiple former Trump allies including Bannon, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino Jr., and former Pentagon chief of staff Kash Patel.

“The reason why some of these witnesses, people like Steve Bannon, who have been public about their contempt for Congress feel they can get away with it is for four years, they did,” Democratic committee member Representative Adam Schiff told MSNBC Wednesday.

Meadows and Patel are also obliged to comply with subpoena deadlines this week. Both have been “engaging” with investigators, the panel says. While Bannon did not show up for his deposition, Democratic committee member Representative Stephanie Murphy told CNN that she believes Patel and Meadows will.

“My expectation is that they will do the patriotic thing and appear before the committee, and if they don’t have anything to hide, there’s no reason why they won’t show up,” she said.

After weeks of debate between the parties over the structure and member selections, the committee largely coalesced along partisan lines, with Representatives Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney being the only Republicans appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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