Bannon indicted on contempt charges for defying 1/6 subpoena

Bannon

WASHINGTON (AP) — Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was indicted Friday on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The Justice Department said Bannon, 67, was indicted on one count for refusing to appear for a deposition last month and the other for refusing to provide documents in response to the committee’s subpoena. He is expected to surrender to authorities on Monday and will appear in court that afternoon, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. The person was granted anonymity to discuss the case.

The indictment came as a second witness, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, defied his own subpoena from the committee on Friday and as Trump has escalated his legal battles to withhold documents and testimony about the insurrection. The chairman of the Jan. 6 panel, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, said he will recommend contempt charges against Meadows next week.

If the House votes to hold Meadows in contempt, that recommendation could also be sent to the Justice Department for a possible indictment.

“Mr. Meadows, Mr. Bannon, and others who go down this path won’t prevail in stopping the Select Committee’s effort getting answers for the American people about January 6th, making legislative recommendations to help protect our democracy, and helping ensure nothing like that day ever happens again,” Democrat Thompson and the vice chairwoman of the panel, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, said in a statement.

The indictment is a victory for House Democrats, who saw dozens of Trump officials decline testimony and defy subpoenas during his presidency. The charges support the authority of Congress to investigate the executive branch and signal potential consequences for those who refuse to cooperate.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Bannon’s indictment reflects the Justice Department’s “steadfast commitment” to ensuring that the department adheres to the rule of law. Each count carries a minimum of 30 days in jail and as long as a year behind bars.

The indictment alleges that Bannon didn’t appear before the committee as subpoenaed or produce required documents. It says he also didn’t communicate with the committee in any way from the time he received the subpoena on Sept. 24 until Oct. 7 when his lawyer sent a letter, seven hours after the documents were due.

Bannon, who worked at the White House at the beginning of the Trump administration and currently serves as host of the conspiracy-minded “War Room” podcast, is a private citizen who “refused to appear to give testimony as required by a subpoena,” the indictment says.

Bannon’s attorney did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. When Bannon declined to appear for his deposition in October, his attorney said the former Trump adviser had been directed by a lawyer for Trump citing executive privilege not to answer questions.

Officials in both Democratic and Republican administrations have been held in contempt by Congress, but criminal indictments for contempt are exceedingly rare. The most recent notable examples of criminal penalties for not testifying before Congress date to the 1970s, including when President Richard Nixon’s aide G. Gordon Liddy was convicted of misdemeanor charges for refusing to answer questions about his role in the Watergate scandal.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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(1) comment

Judd Grossman

Political persecution is not good for our country.

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