The House on Thursday voted to hold former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
The vote was 229-202, with nine GOP crossing party lines in joining all 220 Democrats to vote in favor of the resolution. The nine GOP were Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, John Katko (New York), Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Peter Meijer Michigan, and Fred Upton of Michigan.
Seven of those Republicans —except Mace and Fitzpatrick were part of the 10 GOP lawmakers to impeach former President Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
The committee issued subpoenas to Bannon and three former Trump officials last month over their role organizing the Jan. 6 “Save America” rally where Trump spoke along with their discussions with the former president during the hours of the Capitol attack. The subpoenas compel Bannon and the others to produce sought-after documents relevant to the Capitol riot by Oct. 7 and to sit for a deposition the following week, in which they gave Bannon Oct. 14 to appear for depositions.
The Democratic-controlled committee believes their testimony and other materials provided to the panel would apparently link the former president being involved in causing the Capitol riots to occur during the certification of the 2020 election results.
In the subpoena request letter to Bannon, Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) noted that the former advisor was heavily involved in the final week, including his communication with Trump on December 30th, 2020, where he reportedly urged the former president to “focus his efforts on Jan 6th.”
The select committee cites Bannon podcast a day prior to the rally in which he said to viewers that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow” and “now we’re on the point of attack,” as well as his involvement with a meeting with House Republicans the night of Jan. 6 at the Willard Hotel in D.C in “efforts to persuade” them to block the certification.
However, Bannon defied the subpoena, arguing that the courts should first resolve a case filed by Trump claiming executive privilege over any documents and seeking to block witness testimony.
Democrats ahead of the vote framed the defiance from Bannon as a dangerous precedent that could undermine Congressional subpoena power and their accountability under the law. Some claimed Bannon’s willful defiance of the committee could have been easily resolved had he just simply appeared last week and chanted that he “pleads the Fifth,” using the rights under the Fifth Amendment by refusing to answer the questions when testifying in order not to incriminate himself.
The contempt resolution now rests with President Biden’s Department of Justice on whether to charge Bannon with contempt. Earlier Thursday, just before the House voted, Attorney General Merrick Garland claimed the Justice Department would not be political when deciding to hold one of their predecessor from the opposite party official with criminal prosecution.
“If the House of Representatives votes for a referral of a contempt charge, the Department of Justice will do what it always does in such circumstances, we’ll apply the facts and the law and make a decision, consistent with the principles of prosecution,” Garland said during a House Judiciary hearing on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Trump voiced his opinion in a statement earlier Thursday on the matter, declaring that the real “insurrection took place on November 3, Election Day,” and “January 6 was the Protest!”
He also took direct aim at “low-polling” Cheney, the Vice-Chair of the House Select committee, calling her a “smug fool.”
“[Cheney] is a smug fool, and the great State of Wyoming, together with the Republican Party, fully understands her act. To look at her is to despise her. Hopefully, she will continue down this unsustainable path, and she will soon be gone!” Trump said in an email statement from his Save America Pac on Wednesday.