The House Select Committee investigating the Capitol attack will begin criminal contempt proceedings against Steve Bannon, citing the former Trump strategist’s refusal to cooperate with the panel’s subpoena requests at the direction of the former president.
“Mr. Bannon has declined to cooperate with the Select Committee and is instead hiding behind the former President’s insufficient, blanket, and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke,” committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said Thursday. “We reject his position entirely … so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt.”
Trump lawyers directed witnesses not cooperating with congressional investigators. They invoked executive privilege. However, the Biden Administration has rejected attempts by Trump to withhold documents for the panel.
Thompson scheduled Tuesday’s committee vote for the adoption of a contempt resolution.
“The Select Committee will use every tool at its disposal to get the information it seeks, and witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed,” Thompson said.
This committee’s actions represent a significant escalation of its efforts to coerce witnesses. It also likely opens up new legal challenges for testimony and documents.
Thompson’s announcement came a day following the panel subpoenaed Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official. Clark was accused of repeatedly trying to use his position in order to “interrupt peaceful power transfer” and overturn 2020 elections.
Clark has emerged as a central figure in the former president’s efforts to deny President Joe Biden’s election.
“The Select Committee needs to understand all the details about efforts inside the previous administration to delay the certification of the 2020 election and amplify misinformation about the election results,” Thompson said of the Clark subpoena. “We need to understand Mr. Clark’s role in these efforts at the Justice Department and learn who was involved across the administration.”
Last week, Clark was featured prominently in a damning Senate Judiciary Committee report that found he attempted to countermand the top leaders at the department by drafting a letter to Georgia officials seeking to delay the state’s certification of election results.
Bannon’s lawyers did not respond immediately to requests for comment. They have however formally informed the committee that Bannon intends to reject investigators’ requests.
Last week, Bannon’s legal team informed the committee that President Trump has declared his intent to invoke executive privileges.
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