Committee Shoots Down Bannon’s Request to Postpone Criminal Referral Vote

Committee Shoots Down Bannon’s Request to Postpone Criminal Referral Vote

UPDATE: The House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol attack voted unanimously on Tuesday night to hold in contempt of Congress. Vice chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) claimed Bannon’s refusal to cooperate suggests then-President Trump was “personally involved” in planning the riot.

“We will get to the bottom of that,” she added.

Bannon contended that he can’t participate in the investigation until Trump’s claims of executive privilege are legally resolved. The committee’s seven Democrats and two Republicans disagreed.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: The U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol has denied Steve Bannon’s latest request. Bannon’s lawyer wrote its members asking to delay their vote on issuing a referral for criminal contempt of Congress.

The offense carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to a $100,000 fine.

Under the circumstances, observes expect the select committee’s criminal contempt report to move to a full House vote. The development comes after committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) instructed Bannon and other key allies of former President to sit for depositions and supply pertinent documents. Bannon refused to comply with the committee’s subpoena.

Other Former White House Officials Are “Engaging”

Perhaps in contrast, the panel has said that Trump’s most recent chief of staff, Mark Meadows; former Acting Secretary of Defense Kash Patel and Trump social media guru Dan Scavino have “engaged” with them. It isn’t clear if that means they have cooperated, but the subpoena deadlines given to them were extended.

Although he hasn’t been a government employee for years, Bannon cites Trump’s claims of executive privilege to justify his opposition. Whether or not an ex-president can assert executive privilege in such instances remains unclear. Notably, President Biden refused to back Trump’s attempts to do so last week. That development appeared to pave the way for the Jan. 6 select committee to obtain the Trump administration’s records in the aftermath of the Capitol attack. Seeing that, Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday night seeking to prevent the committee from doing so. (RELATED: Legal Scholar Argues White House’s McAuliffe Support Violates Federal Law)

An Unprecedented Case

At the present time experts can only speculate on the fate of Trump’s case. But even if Biden can ultimately release his predecessor’s documents, a lengthy legal battle might keep the committee from getting what it wants in a timely fashion.

That said, the committee promptly denied Bannon’s request for a weeklong delay on Tuesday night’s referral.

“Further delay in compliance by Mr. Bannon undermines the ability of the committee to timely complete its essential responsibilities,” said Rep. Thompson.

The Hill adds:

Documents released by the committee also include a White House letter to Bannon arguing that Biden as the sitting president has the right to make executive privilege claims.

“As you are aware, Mr. Bannon’s tenure as a White House employee ended in 2017,” deputy counsel Jonathan Su wrote.

“To the extent any privileges could apply to Mr. Bannon’s conversations with the former president or White House staff after the conclusion of his tenure, President Biden has already determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the public interest and therefor not justified.”

What Could Happen Next?

In the event that the House votes to hold Bannon in criminal contempt, Speaker Pelosi will refer his case to the Justice Department for potential prosecution.

Although far from certain, the panel hopes that the mere threat of jail time will ensure compliance from Bannon and other persons of interest in their investigation. (RELATED: Jan. 6 Committee Poised to Recommend Criminal Charges for Bannon)

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