House Votes To Hold Steve Bannon In Contempt Of Congress; Case Goes To Justice Department For Possible Criminal Charge

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Steve Bannon faces a potential criminal charge of criminal contempt of Congress after the House of Representatives voted Thursday to refer the matter to the Justice Department.

The vote was 229-202. Nine Republicans joined with all of the Democrats in support of the resolution.

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Bannon has refused to comply with a subpoena from the January 6 Select Committee, which is tasked with investigating the insurrection at the Capitol earlier this year.

Attorney General Merrick Garland told lawmakers earlier this week that prosecutors would review the facts of the case.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who is chairing the January 6th Committee, said that the vote was necessary for the integrity of the investigation.

“You can’t blow off the United States Congress and think you are going to get away with this,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), another member, told reporters.

Bannon, the former chief strategist for President Donald Trump who was once a Hollywood producer and financier, predicted on his podcast January 5 that the next day would be “game day. So strap in. Let’s get ready.” “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” he said.

The vote also was an indication of the extent of support that Trump holds over the Republican caucus.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump issued a statement in which he downplayed the attack on the Capitol. He called the “insurrection took place on November 3, Election Day. January 6 was the protest!”

“There are people in this chamber right now who were evacuated with me and with the rest of us on that day during the attack, people who have now seem to have forgotten the danger of the moment, the assault on the Constitution, the assault on our Congress,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the vice chair of the committee who was stripped from her leadership position after her criticism of the former president and her vote to impeach him.

Cheney said that Bannon “must have been aware of, and may well have been involved in, the planning of everything that played out on that day. The American people deserve to know what he knew and what he did.”

Republicans opposed to the contempt resolution accused the January 6th Committee of targeting people with “the sole crime of planning a legal political protest,” in the words of Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN).

“Congress has no authority to conduct criminal investigations,” he said. “Why are they seeking information about a permitted political rally? What legislative purpose does that serve?”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) accused the January 6th Committee of targeting Bannon’s efforts to plan political activity.

“We know what this is really about,” Jordan said. “It is about getting at President Trump.”

But committee members accused Republicans of trying to avoid the issue at hand.

“We are investigating the attack on Congress by domestic enemies of our Constitution because we are sworn to do so by our oaths of office,” Raskin said on the floor of the House. “But now the big lie has become a big cover-up.”

Thompson said, “Many of my colleagues would rather talk about anything else, I think I know why. I think they are performing for an audience of one.”

In its resolution recommending the contempt charge, the January 6th Committee said that 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, his efforts to plan political and other activity in advance of January 6th, and his participation in the events of that day from a ‘war room’ organized at the Willard InterContinental Washington D.C. Hotel.”

Bannon’s lawyer has told the committee that his client would not appear for testimony until the issue of executive privilege is resolved. Trump has asserted executive privilege over records sought by the committee, but the Biden White House has said that it is not warranted. Bannon was a private citizen on January 6, as his White House tenure ended in August 2017.

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