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House Capitol attack committee votes to recommend Steve Bannon prosecution

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House Capitol attack committee votes to recommend Steve Bannon prosecution

US Capitol attack

House Capitol attack committee votes to recommend Steve Bannon prosecution

  • Panel unanimously approves contempt of Congress citation
  • Trump ally defied subpoena relating to 6 January insurrection
Steve Bannon, former adviser to Donald Trump, attends a discussion with auto industry leaders on 15 March 2017.

He also appeared to have advance knowledge of the Capitol attack, predicting on his War Room podcast, the day before the insurrection that left five dead and 140 injured: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

In opening statements ahead of the vote, Republican congresswoman and committee member Liz Cheney said: “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.”

But the former chief strategist to Trump indicated to the select committee he would not cooperate with his 23 September subpoena on grounds that communications involving Trump are protected by executive privilege and cannot be revealed to Congress.

The legal argument faces a steep uphill battle with the Biden justice department appearing inclined to adopt a narrow interpretation on executive privilege, previously allowing top Trump justice department officials to testify to Congress about 6 January.

And as the justice department examines the expected referral from the House in finer detail, prosecutors may open Trump to legal jeopardy insofar as he may have obstructed justice by ordering Bannon and other aides to defy the subpoenas.

The select committee said in the contempt report that Bannon had no basis to refuse his subpoena because Trump never actually asserted executive privilege – but also because Bannon tried to use an executive privilege claim for non-executive branch materials.

Within the scope of the subpoena demanding documents and testimony, the report said, included contacts with members of Congress and Trump campaign officials in the days before 6 January, which are ostensibly unrelated to communications between Bannon and Trump.

The contempt report added that even if the select committee accepted his executive privilege claim, the law makes clear that even senior White House officials advising sitting presidents have the kind of immunity from congressional inquiries being claimed by Bannon.

The report further noted: “If any witness so close to the events leading up to the January 6 attack could decline to provide information to the select committee, Congress would be severely hamstrung in its ability to exercise its constitutional powers.”

The prospect of prosecution appears not to have worried Bannon, who spent the day before his deposition date a hundred miles away in Virginia, where he attended a Republican rally that featured a flag purportedly carried by a rioter at the Capitol attack.

Trump lashed out at the select committee after it announced it would vote to hold Bannon in contempt. “They should hold themselves in criminal contempt for cheating in the election,” he said, repeating lies about a stolen election refuted by the justice department.

Still, the select committee’s net appears to be closing in on the former president. Thompson, the chair of the select committee, said on CNN on Thursday that he would not rule out eventually issuing a subpoena for Trump himself.

Maanvi Singh contributed reporting

Topics

  • US Capitol attack
  • Steve Bannon
  • Donald Trump
  • US politics
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Published at Tue, 19 Oct 2021 23:57:56 +0000

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/oct/19/capitol-attack-committee-prosecution-steve-bannon-trump

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