DONALD TRUMP

House Votes to Ask Justice Department to Prosecute Trump Ally Steve Bannon for Ignoring Jan. 6 Subpoena

Andrew Kelly | Reuters
  • The House voted to hold former Trump advisor Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena issued to him by the lawmakers investigating the deadly Capitol riot.
  • The resolution holding Bannon in contempt will now head to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution, though it's unclear if he will ultimately be charged.
  • The vote came three days after former President Donald Trump filed a federal lawsuit attempting to block those investigators from obtaining White House records.

The House voted Thursday to hold former Trump advisor Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena issued to him by the lawmakers investigating the deadly Capitol riot.

The contempt resolution, which was approved in a 229-209 vote, will now head to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution.

It's unclear if prosecutors will ultimately decide to charge Bannon. Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $100,000, according to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion.

Nine Republicans voted with all Democrats in favor of the resolution. 

The vote came three days after former President Donald Trump filed a federal lawsuit attempting to block those investigators from obtaining White House records related to the invasion of the Capitol by hundreds of his supporters.

Trump has asserted that many of those documents are protected by executive privilege. Bannon's attorney cited the former president's privilege claim as the basis for his own noncompliance with the subpoena.

But President Joe Biden declined Trump's request to withhold the records, and the select committee has rejected Bannon's argument as an "excuse" that fails to justify his total defiance of the subpoena.

In remarks on the House floor before the vote, the committee's leaders stressed Bannon's importance as a key witness and defended the legitimacy of their probe against criticism from Republicans.

The panelists pointed repeatedly to Bannon's remarks the day before the invasion, when he said, "all hell is going to break loose tomorrow."

That statement and others make clear that Bannon "knew what was going to happen before it did," select committee vice chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said in a floor speech. "And thus, he must have been aware of, and may have been involved in, the planning of everything that played out on that day."

"The American people deserve to know what he knew and what he did," Cheney said.

A spokeswoman for Bannon did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on the House vote.

Cheney also pushed back on the argument from Trump's lawsuit that the committee's actions serve no "legitimate legislative purpose." She pointed to Trump's post-election conduct — including the pressure he put on state officials to "find" votes for him — saying the Jan. 6 panel would consider whether to strengthen the legal penalties for such actions.

For months before and after his loss to Biden, Trump sowed doubt about the integrity of the election by proliferating a wide array of conspiracy theories and unsupported claims of electoral fraud. Trump's campaign and his allies filed dozens of lawsuits after the election aiming to overturn key states' results, but judges — including some appointed by Trump — rejected those efforts.

On Jan. 6, Trump in a speech outside the White House told throngs of his followers "if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore," and directed them to march to the Capitol.

As the riot unfolded, Trump took no immediate action, which Cheney said "appears to be a supreme dereliction of duty."

The select committee, comprising seven Democrats and two Republicans, was formed after Senate Republicans voted down an attempt to create a "9/11-style" commission with equal membership from both parties to study the Jan. 6 riot. The panel has contacted dozens of witnesses and entities as part of its probe, and has issued subpoenas to other Trump associates including former chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Bannon is the only person to completely defy a subpoena from the committee, chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said Tuesday before the panel voted unanimously to push contempt proceedings forward.

The subpoena to Bannon demanded he produce documents to the committee and sit for a deposition, which was scheduled for last Thursday.

Bannon refused. In a letter to the committee, his attorney, Robert Costello, cited a message from Trump's counsel Justin Clark, instructing Bannon not to produce any documents or testimony "concerning privileged material."

Of the nine Republicans who voted for the contempt resolution, two — Pennsylvania's Brian Fitzpatrick and Nancy Mace of South Carolina — voted against impeaching Trump for inciting the Capitol riot.

The Republicans who voted for the Bannon contempt resolution are:

Liz Cheney, Wyo.
Adam Kinzinger, Ill.
Peter Meijer, Mich.
Fred Upton, Mich.
John Katko, N.Y.
Nancy Mace, S.C.
Brian Fitzpatrick, Pa.
Anthony Gonzalez, Ohio
Jamie Herrera Beutler, Wash.

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