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House Jan. 6 panel votes to hold ex-Trump adviser Bannon in contempt

Del Quentin Wilber, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — A congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is expected to vote Tuesday night to hold former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon in contempt for not cooperating with its inquiry, a significant escalation in its efforts to get answers about the insurrection from the firebrand political operative.

The vote comes as the House panel is running into stiff resistance from former President Donald Trump, who has told allies and associates not to cooperate with the inquiry. On Monday, Trump launched a legal battle to stop the committee from obtaining records from his time in the White House, arguing in a federal lawsuit that the House committee is on a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition.”

The special House committee has been tasked with uncovering what led to the melee by a pro-Trump mob that contributed to five deaths, injured scores of police officers and delayed the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. The panel has sought testimony and records from a broad array of former Trump administration officials, including Bannon, who helped run Trump’s 2016 campaign and served briefly in the White House but was a private citizen in the run-up to the riot.

“The plain fact here is that Mr. Bannon has no legal right to ignore the committee’s lawful subpoena,” said Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In refusing to cooperate, Bannon may be seeking to shield Trump, Cheney added. “Mr. Bannon and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do, however, appear to reveal one thing,” she said. “They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of Jan. 6, and this committee will get to the bottom of that.”

The unanimous contempt vote stemmed from Bannon’s decision to defy the committee’s subpoena seeking records and a deposition scheduled for last week. Bannon’s attorney, Robert Costello, said in a letter to the committee that Bannon would not comply with the subpoena until lawmakers reached an agreement with Trump or until a court rules on the matter.

 

Costello cited a letter he received from Trump’s attorney requesting that Bannon assert executive privilege, a legal doctrine that has allowed presidents to withhold certain confidential communications from public disclosure.

Costello did not respond Tuesday to an email seeking comment on the committee’s vote.

The committee voted on a resolution, which it released Monday, that recommended the House hold Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying its subpoena. If the full House votes to endorse the resolution, Bannon will be referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. That vote could come as early as this week.

The resolution asserted that Bannon “had multiple roles relevant to this investigation, including his role in constructing and participating in the ‘stop the steal’ public relations effort that motivated the attack, (and) his efforts to plan political and other activity in advance of January 6th.”

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