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The full House of Representatives will vote on Thursday on whether to recommend criminal contempt of Congress charges against ex-Trump White House aide Steve Bannon, House Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair Pete Aguilar said.
Mr Aguilar was one of the nine members of the House select committee investigating the 6 January insurrection who on Tuesday unanimously recommended that Mr Bannon face criminal contempt charges for defying a congressional subpoena to produce documents and testimony relating to the pro-Trump mob attack on the Capitol.
“Under the leadership of Chairman Bennie Thompson the January 6 Committee last night, we reported out a contempt recommendation to the full House Floor that we will vote on tomorrow,” Mr Aguilar said at a press conference on Wednesday following House Democrats’ weekly caucus meeting. “The next step is to hold a vote of the whole house to allow the Speaker to certify the criminal contempt referral to the US Attorney of the District of Columbia, and we fully expect the US attorney to honor their duty, and to bring this matter before a grand jury.”
Mr Aguilar stressed that the committee’s action was “not done to be punitive” but was “done to uphold the law”.
“Democrats and Republicans feel that it is the duty of every member of this body to stand by our oath and to uphold the Constitution. I’m proud that my colleagues in the Democratic caucus are prepared to take the appropriate steps to honor our oath, and I hope that our Republican colleagues are prepared to do the same,” he said.
But aside from the two Republicans on the committee who voted to hold Mr Bannon in contempt on Tuesday — Select Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney and Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger — it is unlikely that any Republican will vote the same way on the House floor.
A source close to House Republican leadership who spoke to The Independent on condition of anonymity, said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise will advise GOP members to vote “no” on the measure.
Yet even with nearly the entire GOP conference unified against the contempt resolution, the Democrats’ slim majority in the House — plus the support from Ms Cheney and Mr Kinzinger — means that the push to block it will almost certainly be unsuccessful.
Nevertheless, most of the 212 House Republicans are lined up in opposition to the committee’s report, just as nearly all voted against the resolution creating the committee itself earlier this year.
Speaking during a Wednesday hearing of the House Rules Committee — the committee charged with approving rules for Thursday’s floor debate — Ranking Member Tom Cole called the contempt report “an inherently punitive measure” that “will not help the select committee get the documents or testimony they claim to seek”.
Mr Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, said the contempt referral against Mr Bannon was meant only to “further help the House majority’s political agenda,” and complained that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had blocked two of Mr McCarthy’s picks for the select committee — Reps Jim Jordan and Jim Banks — from serving. Ms Pelosi said she did so out of “respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members”.
“It was clear when Speaker Pelosi created the committee and unilaterally blocked Leader McCarthy’s appointments of Republican members that our goal was to ensure that only her chosen narrative was told,” Mr Cole said.
But Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who serves on both the Select Committee and the Rules Committee, noted that both House and Senate Republicans had also opposed creation of a bipartisan, bicameral commission that would have investigated the 6 January attack with equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans on the body, and had done so at the behest of former president Donald Trump.
“At that point, we had no alternative ... other than to create a select committee,” he said. “We have a bipartisan, select committee that is going to get to the bottom of this worst attack on the US Capitol in the Congress since the War of 1812.”