WASHINGTON – The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol voted Tuesday evening to hold Steve Bannon in contempt after the former Trump adviser denied a congressional subpoena.
The committee approved a contempt report that will recommend charges against Bannon, who was in touch with former President Donald Trump ahead of the riot on Jan. 6.
The committee, led by Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., voted unanimously.
“Mr. Bannon stands alone in his complete defiance of our subpoena,” Thompson said at the hearing. “That’s not acceptable. No one in this country, no matter how wealthy or how powerful, is above the law.”
Now that the report has been approved by the committee, the contempt report of criminal charges will now go to the full House for a vote. If it is approved there, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will send it to the Justice Department, who has final say on prosecuting Bannon.
Bannon’s attorneys formally notified the committee of his intention to refuse investigators’ requests last week, citing executive privilege. The committee then announced its plans to hold Bannon in contempt.
Bannon was not a White House staffer on Jan. 6, having left the administration years earlier.
He served a prominent role in Trump’s first campaign for president, then as White House chief strategist for the first few months of the Trump presidency until he left in August 2017.
His lawyers requested Monday night a one-week delay of Tuesday’s contempt vote after Trump filed a lawsuit Monday suing the Jan. 6 select committee to block the disclosure of White House documents, describing the panel’s demand as a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition.”
The delay was denied by the committee.
“The only basis for your request is yesterday’s filing of litigation by Trump,” Thompson wrote. He called the committee’s investigation “extremely important and urgent for the nation, and further delay in compliance” by Bannon undermines the committee’s ability to “timely complete its essential responsibilities.”
Additionally, he wrote, “no grounds exist for any ‘adjournment’ or other delay.”
Trump’s legal action came after President Joe Biden declined to assert executive privilege sought by the former president to sidestep the committee’s demand.
Several other Trump associates have been subpoenaed, but Trump’s lawyers have told witnesses not to cooperate.
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Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a member of the committee, told USA TODAY last week that if other witnesses also ignore their subpoenas, the committee could pursue holding others in contempt as well, saying, “We’ll take each case on their individual merits, but nobody has the right to blow off the Congress of the United States.”
Before he left office, Trump pardoned Bannon, who was awaiting trial for allegedly defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors in the “We Build the Wall” GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign that raised $25 million.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson