The House on Thursday voted to hold former Donald Trump aide Steven Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress, saying Bannon's refusal to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the riot by supporters of Donald Trump on January 6 should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The vote was 229 to 202, with just nine GOP members voting with every Democrat in favor of holding Bannon in criminal contempt.
It's now up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to certify the vote and send it to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who is required to "bring the matter before the grand jury for its action," according to a CNN report. The Justice Department will also review the case separately following the referral from Pelosi.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a hearing Thursday, "The Department of Justice will do what it always does ... apply the facts and the law and make a decision consistent with the principles of prosecution."
Bannon could face up to 12 months in jail if he's charged and successfully prosecuted.
The House select committee had subpoenaed records of Bannon's communications with Trump and set a date for him of Oct. 14 to sit for a deposition to testify. A 26-page report, released by the January 6 select committee on October 18, lays out why it believes Bannon played an integral part in the planning of the "stop the steal" effort that preceded the insurrection that day.
Bannon refused to either testify or submit records, citing Trump's dubious claims of "executive privilege." But legal experts say that doesn't apply to Trump because he is no longer president, and Bannon couldn't claim it, as he was not in the administration at the time of the attack.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of two Republicans who sit on the January 6 select committee, said during a speech on Tuesday night, "I ask my colleagues, please consider the fundamental questions of right and wrong here. The American people must know what happened. They must know the truth. All of us who are elected officials must do our duty to prevent the dismantling of the rule of law, and to ensure nothing like that dark day in January ever happens again."
Seven other GOP lawmakers joined Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, the other Republican on the select committee, and Cheney to vote with the Democrats to hold Bannon in contempt.
The lawmakers who voted to join the Democrats were Reps. Nancy Mace (R-SC), Peter Meijer (R-MI), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Fred Upton (R-MI), John Katko (R-NY), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
In fact, GOP leadership urged all Republicans to vote against the contempt resolution, a move Cheney also called out on Wednesday, accusing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of being "especially active in attempting to block the investigation of events of Jan. 6, despite the fact that he clearly called for such a commission the week after the attack."
Democrats in the House slammed their GOP colleagues for voting to shield Bannon from complying with a legal congressional subpoena, saying ahead of the vote that they "fear" Trump.
"He is so feared that my Republican colleagues are going to keep denying what happened that day," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) said in a speech on the House floor. "And they keep trying to sweep it under the rug as if it never happened. As if it's no big deal."
Rep. Michelle Fischbach of Minnesota justified her decision not to refer Bannon for contempt proceedings by saying the vote is merely an attempt "to distract from the real issues that concern Americans."
"We are here going back and forth arguing of whether we should continue down a path of partisan investigation of questionable motivations and purpose," Fischbach said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.