The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol building by a mob of loyalists to former President Donald Trump will move to file a criminal complaint against Steve Bannon, a former Trump aide who refused to comply with a subpoena order from the commission.
The chair of the committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), announced that a vote on Bannon’s fate would take place on Tuesday of next week. From there, a vote in the House of Representatives will take place — and if Bannon is found in contempt of Congress by a majority of the legislative body, the matter will then be forwarded to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“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,” Thompson said in a statement on Thursday.
Fellow committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) echoed Thompson’s comments in a social media post.
“Steve Bannon has violated a congressional subpoena and missed his opportunity — w/o jail time or court order — to come clean about the Jan. 6 insurrection,” Raskin said on Twitter. “He will face the full force of the law for the smirking contempt he is showing Congress and the American people.”
Robert Costello, one of Bannon’s lawyers, said earlier this week that “until … you reach an agreement with President Trump” on executive privilege claims, his client wouldn’t comply with the congressional subpoena, which demanded documents related to the January 6 attack and closed-door testimony from Bannon.
Previously, Trump has told four of his former aides who were subpoenaed by the select committee to defy their orders. However, at least two of his former aides appear to be cooperating with the commission’s work.
The DOJ has already stated that former aides to Trump need not worry about violating Trump’s supposed executive privilege. In a memo the department released this summer, the DOJ stated that those who worked for Trump could give “unrestricted testimony” to the commission without fear of violating the former president’s rights.
This past week, President Joe Biden formally rejected Trump’s executive privilege claims, and the Biden administration ordered that the National Archives hand over any documents requested by the commission from Trump’s time in the White House relating to the attack on the Capitol.
“President Biden does not uphold the former President’s assertion of privilege,” White House counsel Dana Remus wrote in a letter to the Archivist of the United States David Ferriero.
The Presidential Records Act gives final decision-making power related to claims of executive privilege to the current president. Former presidents may sue if they disagree with their decision to release documents from their time in the White House, but courts have generally sided with litigants seeking to make such information public record.
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