The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for defying a subpoena issued by the Jan. 6 Select Committee.
The vote fell largely along party lines, with every Democrat who voted approving the resolution, and all but a handful of Republicans voting against it.
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“Mr. Bannon stands alone in his defiance, and we will not stand for it,” Jan. 6 Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said during the debate preceding the vote. “We will not allow anyone to derail our work, because our work is too important: helping ensure that the future of American democracy is strong and secure.”
“He must have been aware of, and may well have been involved in, the planning of everything that played out on that day,” added Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). “The American people deserve to know what he knew and what he did.”
Cheney was one of only nine Republicans to vote in favor of the measure. Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) were the others. House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) earlier this week instructed the party to vote against the measure, writing in a letter sent to representatives that Congress “does not have enumerated constitutional powers to conduct investigations or issue subpoenas outside of that scope.”
Cheney and Kinzinger are the only two Republicans who serve on the Jan. 6 Select Committee, which voted on Tuesday night to send the criminal-contempt resolution to the House. The committee has been investigating the events leading up to and surrounding the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, and issued subpoenas to several figures with ties to Trump. Bannon was the only one to defy the committee’s request for testimony, however, arguing that he was protected by executive privilege (Bannon has not been employed by the federal government since 2017).
The committee has emphasized that it will do everything in its power to hold Bannon accountable for failing to comply with the 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,” Chairman Thompson said last Thursday after Bannon informed the committee he would not show up for his testimony. “We reject his position entirely. The select committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt.”
Now that the House has approved the committee’s recommendation to hold Bannon in criminal contempt, the matter will move to the Justice Department. Attorney General Merrick Garland has provided no indication of how the DOJ will handle the referral, only that it will handle it. “The Department of Justice will do what it always does in such circumstances,” he said Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee. “We’ll apply the facts and the law and make a decision, consistent with the principles of prosecution.”
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