The House of Representatives voted Thursday to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress, recommending that he be prosecuted by the Justice Department for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The final tally came to 229-202 with most Republicans voting against the measure.
The committee issued subpoenas to Bannon and several other former advisers of Donald Trump in September, seeking their testimony and records concerning the act of insurrection. The letter sent to Bannon said that the committee has reason to believe Bannon has information and documents that are pertinent to its investigation, citing communications that Bannon had with Trump a week prior to the attack.
Bannon refused to obey the subpoena for a deposition scheduled for October 14, with his lawyer citing Trump’s lawsuit to block the subpoenas, which invoked executive privilege. “It is therefore clear to us that since the executive privileges belong to President Trump, and he has, through his counsel, announced his intention to assert those executive privileges enumerated above, we must accept his direction and honor his invocation of executive privilege,” Bannon’s attorney Robert Costello wrote to the committee, according to the New York Times.
The committee later voted unanimously to forward its recommendation to hold Bannon in contempt to the House of Representatives for a full vote. Congressman Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the select committee, said in a statement that Bannon was “hiding behind the former President’s insufficient, blanket, and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke.”
“The Select Committee will use every tool at its disposal to get the information it seeks, and witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed,” Thompson said.
Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor that could result in “up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000” if the Justice Department chooses to prosecute Bannon, according to the Washington Post.
During an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee earlier on Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland was asked how the Justice Department would proceed if it were to receive a referral from the House.
“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.