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House of Representatives votes to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress

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steve bannon trump
Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump at the White House in 2017. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images
  • The House voted Thursday to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress.

  • Nine Republicans broke ranks and voted with Democrats to hold Bannon in criminal contempt.

  • Congress' contempt referral will go to the DOJ, which will decide whether to bring charges.

The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to hold Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and a close confidant of former President Donald Trump, in criminal contempt of Congress. The vote will trigger a referral to the Justice Department, which will then decide whether to bring formal charges against Bannon.

The final vote was 229-202, with nine Republicans breaking ranks to vote with Democrats and hold Bannon in contempt.

Here are the Republicans who crossed party lines:

  • Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming

  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois

  • Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan

  • Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio

  • Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan

  • Rep. John Katko of New York

  • Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina

  • Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania

  • Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington

Bannon is among several Trump allies who were subpoenaed to provide documents and testimony to Congress as part of the January 6 select committee's investigation of the deadly Capitol insurrection and the events surrounding it.

Bannon and the former senior Pentagon aide Kash Patel faced a deadline last week to comply with the subpoenas. The committee also expected the former White House communications aide Dan Scavino and former chief of staff Mark Meadows to sit for depositions on Friday.

But Bannon's attorney Robert Costello informed the select committee last week that his client would not cooperate with the subpoena, citing Trump's claims of executive privilege.

"That is an issue between the committee and President Trump's counsel and Mr. Bannon is not required to respond at this time," Costello said in the letter.

He added that Trump's lawyer Justin Clark had "directed" Bannon not to testify or turn over documents "until the issue of executive privilege is resolved."

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise put out a statement earlier Thursday urging members to vote against the measure, saying Democrats were "pursuing a partisan agenda to politicize the January 6th attack." And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said at his weekly news conference that the subpoena was "invalid."

"He has the right to go to court to see if he has executive privilege or not," McCarthy said of Bannon. "I don't know if he does or not, but neither does the committee."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, called on Republicans to vote to hold Bannon in contempt, saying during a news conference that members of Congress "take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution."

"The genius of our Constitution and our founders was the separation of power, checks and balances," she said. "If, in fact, you want to negate the ability of one check of a branch of government over another, then you are undermining the Constitution. So this goes beyond Bannon in its importance."

The California Democrat tacked on near the end of the presser: "I don't know if Republicans want to protect our democracy. So far, we haven't seen any evidence of that."

The ball is in Merrick Garland's court

House select committee investing January 6 pro-Trump riot
Members of a House select committee on July 27 investigating the deadly pro-Trump riot. Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Multiple lawmakers on the January 6 select committee indicated in recent days that the panel was ready to take aggressive steps to force compliance with their subpoenas.

Rep. Adam Schiff told Insider that while the Justice Department previously declined to enforce criminal-contempt referrals, he expected that to change under the Biden administration.

"We now have an attorney general who respects the rule of law and who believes that no one is above the law," he said. "And it's our expectation that the Justice Department will enforce criminal-contempt charges against those who flout the law."

Kinzinger, one of two Republicans serving on the select committee, told Insider he hoped there was a "really good" chance that the Justice Department would move to prosecute Bannon.

"This is very unique," Kinzinger said. "It was an attack on the Capitol. The DOJ has a responsibility to the American people, and I think they'll follow through.

"It'll end up being in their court. It's a decision they have to make. We certainly hope and expect they will follow through on this."

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, another member of the select committee, said Bannon's defiance of the subpoena was remarkable.

"He didn't even work in the executive branch, and he thinks he can just not show up," Raskin told Insider. "I don't think he can get away with it."

Earlier Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland was asked whether the Justice Department would seriously consider contempt referrals put forth by Congress.

"The department recognizes the important oversight role that this committee, the House of Representatives, and the Senate play with respect to the executive branch," Garland said.

With respect to criminal-contempt referrals, he added: "The Department of Justice will do what it always does in such circumstances: It will apply the facts and the law and make the decision consistent with the principles of prosecution."

Thursday's full House vote came after the January 6 committee voted Tuesday to formally hold Bannon in contempt of Congress.

Cheney, who is also on the committee and serves as its vice chair, said after the Tuesday vote that "Bannon had substantial advance knowledge of the plans for January 6 and likely had an important role in formulating those plans."

"The American people are entitled to Mr. Bannon's firsthand testimony about all of these relevant facts," she added.

Trump vs. Biden

Trump
Trump. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Trump, for his part, has urged all his former aides and allies to defy the committee's demands for documents and testimony.

The committee's investigation is also the backdrop for a legal showdown between Trump and President Joe Biden over the former's assertion of executive privilege over a set of documents the panel requested from the National Archives in connection with Trump's activities on January 6.

But the Biden White House rejected Trump's request to withhold the records from the select committee.

"President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified as to any of the documents," White House counsel Dana Remus said in a letter earlier this month to the National Archives.

On Monday, Trump hit back with a 26-page lawsuit against Congress and the National Archives to block the release of the records.

"In a political ploy to accommodate his partisan allies, President Biden has refused to assert executive privilege over numerous clearly privileged documents requested by the committee," Trump's lawyer Jesse Binnall said in the filing.

He went on to say that the records were covered under executive privilege and that Trump still had the right to assert that power even though he's no longer in office.

Rep. Bennie Thompson and Cheney dismissed Trump's lawsuit as "nothing more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our probe."

Read the original article on Business Insider

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