Steve Bannon suggests contempt vote is ‘set up’ from Joe Biden

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Steve Bannon appears to believe that the contempt of Congress vote against him is a “set up” orchestrated by President Joe Biden.

The former Trump White House Chief Strategist has refused to comply with the subpoena for documents and testimony from the January 6 Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot.

Former President Donald Trump has sued the committee to avoid having any documents relating to the insurrection released to the investigation. He has also told his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to not cooperate with the committee.

The House Rules Committee held a procedural vote on Wednesday to hold Mr Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress.

Discussing his case on his podcast with Congressman Matt Gaetz, it didn’t take long for the pair to bring up a perceived conspiracy.

“About Merrick Garland. Give our audience some inside baseball. You’re saying the Attorney General is coming out tomorrow. And you’ve said for a while this is all a set-up,” Mr Bannon told Mr Gaetz on his War Room: Pandemic podcast. “They’ll do the committee one night, the rules the next afternoon – bring the AG up and then have the vote in the house. Walk us through why was he coming up to Capitol Hill What was he supposed to be doing?”

Mr Gaetz said it was a plot to prosecute Mr Bannon.

“Merrick Garland’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow has been purposefully synced with the actions you saw in the Rules Committee today and the votes that will occur to hold you in contempt of Congress,” he said. “That is all being stitched together.”

Mr Garland appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday as the full House prepared to hold a vote for a criminal contempt resolution for Mr Bannon.

“The Department of Justice will do what it always does in such circumstances, we’ll apply the facts and the law and make a decision, consistent with the principles of prosecution,” Mr Garland said when he was asked about a possible criminal contempt referral in relation to the investigation of the insurrection on 6 January.

Mr Gaetz claimed that the Biden administration is “trying to create a wholly-enclosed ecosystem of the political persecution in the Congress, and the enforcement tools of the Department of Justice”.

“I have often said that one of the scariest things I have observed is that the FBI really has become the enforcement wing of the Democratic Party in a lot of circumstances,” he claimed.

Mr Gaetz said that former President Donald Trump’s first Attorney General Jeff Sessions had “got Stockholm Syndrome” and “became sympathetic with his captors at the Justice Department”.

“Did you think Joe Biden gave the game away when he was on the lawn and interviewed and said yeah they ought to be prosecuted?” Mr Bannon asked. “Do you think he had already worked through this? Is that what you are implying?”

“Biden has gaslit the Justice Department,” Mr Gaetz claimed. “Because now it’s far more difficult for the Justice Department to throw its hands in the air and say it’s all a political squabble. which actually is what it is, because Biden is out there gaslighting them to engage in political process.”

On Friday, Mr Biden told reporters: “I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable,” concerning those who refuse to comply with subpoenas.

“I do, yes,” he said when asked if he thought they should face prosecution.

Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki emphasised that the Justice Department makes independent prosecutorial decisions, without influence from the White House: “That would be up to the Department of Justice, and it would be their purview to determine. They’re an independent agency,” she said. “They’re independent. They would determine any decision on criminal prosecutions. I’d point you to them and, of course, the committee.”

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said on Friday: “The Department of Justice will make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop.”

Republican Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, who was ousted from GOP leadership because of her steadfast criticism of Mr Trump and now serves on the 6 January Committee, said on Wednesday that “this contempt citation is crucial for our investigation. Witnesses cannot simply ignore congressional subpoenas when they prefer not to attend. We must do everything possible to understand that dark day in our history, and to ensure to potential legislative and other actions that such a thing never happens again”.

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