© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon leaves Manhattan Federal Court following his impeachment hearing for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in the Manhattan borough of the city New York, New York.
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Congressional committee investigating the deadly Jan.6 assault on Capitol Hill said Thursday it would vote next week to hold Steve Bannon, a longtime adviser to former President Donald Trump, in contempt. to Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.
The House Select Committee said it scheduled a vote Tuesday on a report documenting the contempt case against Bannon, a first step toward criminal charges.
“The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with the procedures to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt,” the committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, said in a statement.
The Democratic-led panel was formed to investigate the January attack on Capitol Hill by Trump supporters as Trump sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Trump has falsely claimed that his loss to President Joe Biden was fraudulent.
If the House committee approves the case of contempt against Bannon, the matter will be put to a vote in the plenary session of the House. The Justice Department would ultimately decide whether to prosecute the Republican political strategist.
An attorney for Bannon, who was asked to make a statement Thursday, referred to a letter that said his client would not provide testimony or documents until the committee reached an agreement with Trump on executive privilege or a court ruled. on the matter.
Trump had urged the former aides to refuse to cooperate, citing executive privilege. The former Republican president issued a statement Thursday repeating his false accusations of fraud and saying his supporters “will not tolerate it.”
Thompson rejected the executive privilege argument. “Mr. Bannon has refused to cooperate with the Select Committee and instead hides behind the former president’s general, vague and insufficient statements about the privileges he intended to invoke. We reject his position entirely.”
Hundreds of Trump supporters made their way into the headquarters of the United States government on January 6, when Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers gathered to certify the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the November 2020 presidential election.
The attack on the Capitol forced pennies, legislators, staff and journalists to flee, and delayed the certification of the election result for several hours. That day four people died, one shot by the police and the others from natural causes. More than 100 policemen were injured, one of whom died the next day. Subsequently, four officers committed suicide.
Bannon’s subpoena was one of more than a dozen issued by the Select Committee, with some remarks originally scheduled for this week. But those have been delayed as some of those named have been negotiating with the panel.
A committee aide said two scheduled remarks, by Trump’s former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Kash Patel, a former Defense Department official, were delayed for a short time because they continue to interact with the panel.
A deposition of Dan Scavino, a former White House communications deputy chief, was also postponed due to delays in serving his subpoena. Patel was due to testify on Thursday and Meadows and Scavino on Friday.
Anyone found guilty of contempt of Congress faces a fine and up to 12 months in prison.
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