The Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has announced it will meet on Tuesday to formally discuss charges of Contempt against Steve Bannon.
As we reported on Thursday, Bannon refused to appear to testify before the Committee, sending a letter through his lawyer invoking an executive privilege neither he nor Donald Trump actually has.
Once the Committee decides to move forward with a charge of Contempt of Congress, it would come to the House floor in the form of a resolution that would then be put to a House vote. Such a move could happen within days of Tuesday’s vote.
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) October 15, 2021
Investigators announced subpoenas of Bannon and three other former Trump administration aides on September 23rd. Trump last week told all four men to ignore the Committee, two of those ex-aides, Kash Patel and Mark Meadows, are engaging with investigators.
Bannon 1/5/21: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It’s all converging, and now we’re on the point of attack tomorrow. And all I can say is: Strap in. You have made this happen, and tomorrow it’s game day.”
Bannon today: "But muh executive privilege."
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) October 14, 2021
Forcing him to comply will be a major test for the Committee, signaling to numerous other witnesses just how much pressure investigators will exert to secure cooperation.
“The US Attorney in the District of Columbia has an obligation to bring this to a grand jury. And Bannon committed a federal crime today.” –@RepRaskin
— Mueller, She Wrote (@MuellerSheWrote) October 15, 2021
The outcome of the Committee’s vote on holding Bannon in contempt is essentially a foregone conclusion. Members have been saying for weeks that they would likely invoke criminal contempt against any witnesses refusing to cooperate. If the full House votes to hold Bannon in contempt — which is also all but certain, as Democrats have a slim majority — then the matter will be referred to the U.S. Attorney for Washington D.C. for criminal prosecution.
I know that a prosecution of Bannon for criminal contempt could be tricky for DOJ. But the answer about whether to charge has to come down to this: How can you *not* charge? Where would that leave DOJ, the January 6 Committee, Congress, and our constitutional balance of powers?
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) October 15, 2021
Whether the Justice Department acts quickly in response is a significant but unanswered question. Attorney General Merrick Garland has not indicated how he will handle such referrals from the House, though he’s slated to testify to the House Judiciary Committee next week and is likely to be pressed on the matter.
Let Bannon stand in court wearing an orange jumpsuit and explain why he shouldn’t have to follow the same laws the rest of us have to follow. https://t.co/Jb5XbtXmjd
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) October 14, 2021
If the DoJ prosecutes Bannon and secures his conviction, he would face up to a year in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. He has the option to appeal, and the courts would determine whether to delay penalties during the appeals process.