US House panel votes to hold Steve Bannon in contempt | News | DW | 20.10.2021

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US House panel votes to hold Steve Bannon in contempt

The January 6 select committee in Congress has unanimously voted to hold Steve Bannon, former White House adviser and a key ally of ex-President Donald Trump, in contempt of Congress.

The exterior of the U.S. Capitol building

The Tuesday evening vote sends the contempt resolution to the full House, which is expected to vote on the measure Thursday

The US Congressional select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection voted unanimously Tuesday to hold Steve Bannon, longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, in contempt of Congress.

Bannon had defied a subpoena for documents and refused to testify, citing executive privilege.

But the committee said that Bannon, fired from his White House job in 2017, was a private citizen when he spoke to Trump ahead of the January 6 attack. And Trump has not asserted any such executive privilege claims to the panel itself, lawmakers said. 

The committee's chairman, Bennie Thompson, said Tuesday that Bannon "stands alone in his complete defiance of our subpoena'' and the panel will not take no for an answer.

He said that while Bannon may be "willing to be a martyr to the disgraceful cause of whitewashing what happened on January 6th — of demonstrating his complete loyalty to the former President," the contempt vote is a warning to other witnesses.

"We won't be deterred. We won't be distracted. And we won't be delayed,'' Thompson added.

The committee was created by House Democrats against the wishes of most Republicans. Two of the committee's nine members — Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — are Trump's fellow Republicans.

What happens next?

The select committee's vote paves the way for a full House vote on the contempt measure Thursday. 

House approval would send the matter to the Justice Department, which would then decide whether to pursue criminal charges against Bannon. 

If convicted, Bannon would face up to a year in prison, but more likely a fine. 

Steve Bannon

Bannon had defied a subpoena for documents and refused to testify, citing executive privilege

Senior Republican on committee critical of Trump

Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans on the committee, said, "it appears that Mr. Bannon had substantial advance knowledge" of the Capitol riot. She also stressed that "Mr Bannon has no legal right to ignore the committee's lawful subpoena."

Furthermore, Cheney sharply criticized former President Trump.

"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."

Addressing fellow Republicans she said, "you all know what happened on January 6 was profoundly wrong."

The House committee is tasked with investigating the violent mob of Trump supporters that ransacked the US Capitol in Washington on January 6 in an attack that left five people dead.

The vote came a day after Trump sued the committee and the National Archives to fight the release of documents the committee has requested.

ar/sri (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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