The House of Representatives has voted to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress, following his refusal to “cooperate” with the partisan January 6 Select Committee.
Bannon, the co-founder of Breitbart News and former senior advisor to President Donald Trump, had been subpoenaed to appear in front of the House Select Committee in charge of investigating the January 6 protests last week, but refused to appear, with his lawyer citing concerns around the executive privilege of President Trump.
Unsurprisingly, the January 6 Committee decided to hold Bannon in contempt, which they unanimously voted in favor of on Tuesday. On Thursday, the House also voted in favor of holding Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress, 229 to 202. Along with the two House Republicans who sit on the January 6 Committee, Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinziger, seven other Republicans voted in favor of the motion: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), John Katko (NY), Nancy Mace (SC), Peter Meijer (MI), and Fred Upton (MI).
“Congress is prohibited from conducting criminal investigations, period. But that’s exactly what the select committee is doing: conducting an illicit, criminal investigation into American citizens,” said Representative Jim Banks during the debate.
“Congress can only issue subpoenas that serve a legislative purpose. The question that the committee must answer is, why are they seeking information about a permitted political rally?” Banks, along with Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, had been originally referred to the Committee by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but their appointments were vetoed by Speaker Pelosi.
Despite President Trump blasting the Committee as being “composed of Radical Left Democrats and a few horrible RINO Republicans,” the House Republicans did not formally whip their members to vote against the resolution, although they did strongly encourage a no vote.
The matter of whether or not anything will happen to Bannon for being in contempt of Congress now passes over to Attorney General Merrick Garland, who on Thursday was quizzed by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee over the Department of Justice’s reaction to January 6, including the treatment of prisoners, and whether federal agents had any impact on what happened.
Joe Biden has previously stated that anyone who defies a Congressional subpoena over January 6 should be prosecuted. It is unclear whether his view will have any impact on Garland’s decision.