January 6 committee seeks to hold Bannon in criminal contempt
The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol will try to hold key Trump strategist Stephen Bannon in criminal contempt for not complying with a subpoena, committee chair Bennie Thompson said Thursday.
"The Select Committee will use every tool at its disposal to get the information it seeks, and witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed," Thompson said in a statement. "All witnesses are required to provide the information they possess so the Committee can get to the facts."
In a letter obtained by CBS News, Bannon's attorney said that he is not acting in "defiance" of the subpoena, and pointed to instructions from former President Trump's attorney. "President Trump's counsel stated that they were invoking executive and other privileges and therefore directed us not to produce documents or give testimony that might reveal information President Trump's counsel seeks to legally protect," his lawyer said.
In an interview with CBS News, Congressman Adam Schiff, who sits on the committee, said the panel will meet next week to vote on moving forward with holding Bannon in criminal contempt. The whole House will then vote on the measure and if a majority supports it, the speaker will refer it to the Justice Department for prosecution.
"I do think that one criminal contempt charge will get people's attention that we're serious about enforcing these subpoenas," Schiff said. "And I don't know how many people--I hope very few--are going to be willing to be prosecuted to serve the corrupt interests of the former president."
Bannon was one of four Trump allies — the others being former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and Defense Department official Kash Patel — subpoenaed to appear before the select committee this week.
But a source familiar with the investigation told CBS News that the committee agreed to "short postponements" of its scheduled depositions this week with Meadows, Scavino and Patel. The source said Patel and Meadows continue to engage with the committee and that it offered Scavino an extension because the delivery of his subpoena was delayed. Thomspon and committee vice chair Liz Cheney said last week that Meadows and Patel had "so far" complied with the committee.
The White House counsel on Wednesday formally rejected Mr Trump's request to assert executive privilege to keep documents private. In a letter posted to the White House website, White House counsel Dana Remus wrote President Biden "instructs you, in accord with Section 4(b) of Executive Order 13489, to provide the pages identified as privileged by the former President to the Select Committee."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created the House select committee earlier this year to investigate the January 6 attack, when thousands of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol as Congress counted the electoral votes, a largely ceremonial final step affirming President Biden's victory. Lawmakers were sent fleeing amid the riot, which led to the deaths of five people and the arrests of hundreds more. Mr. Trump, who encouraged his supporters to "walk over" to the Capitol during the Stop the Steal rally, was impeached by the House one week later for inciting the riot but was later acquitted by the Senate.
Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, two of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump, are the only two Republicans on the nine-person committee.
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