Hold Steve Bannon in Contempt

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon exits the Manhattan Federal Court in the New York City, August 20, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

The House select committee on the January 6 Capitol riot voted in favor of holding former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a committee subpoena.

The committee voted 9–0 to recommend that Bannon be held in contempt. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) subsequently announced that a full House vote on the matter will be held on Thursday.

“It’s a shame that Mr. Bannon has put us in this position. But we won’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” committee head Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.) said at the meeting. “We believe Mr. Bannon has information relevant to our probe, and we’ll use the tools at our disposal to get that information.”

If the House votes to hold Bannon in contempt, the matter may be referred to the Justice Department for prosecution.

The committee subpoenaed Bannon earlier this month for records of his communications with the former president in the lead-up to the riot. Bannon’s attorney Robert Costello told the committee that he would not comply with the subpoena, because former president Donald Trump has asserted executive privilege over White House records sought by the committee and sued to prevent their release.

“We must accept his direction and honor his invocation of executive privilege,” Costello wrote in a letter to the committee on Thursday obtained by CNN. “We will comply with the directions of the courts, when and if they rule on these claims of both executive and attorney client privileges.”

At the committee meeting on Tuesday, Cheney cast doubt on those arguments.

“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing, however: they suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th. And we will get to the bottom of that,” Cheney said.

The committee was formed earlier this summer to investigate the Capitol riot, during which supporters of the former president rioted at the Capitol, interrupting the certification of the Electoral College results.

However, House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) rejected two of House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R., Calif.) recommendations for Republican appointees to the committee. McCarthy subsequently pulled his support, leaving only staunch anti-Trump Representatives Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) on the committee.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.