Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, was the lone member of the state’s congressional delegation to vote Thursday to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for ignoring a congressional subpoena.
The contempt charge, which was passed on a bipartisan vote of 229-202, stems from Bannon ignoring a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the assault on the Capitol. The contempt charge now prompts the Justice Department to take up the matter and possibly prosecute Bannon.
“Steve Bannon appears to have played a multi-faceted role in the events of the January 6th attack,” Sewell said in a statement after the vote. “The American people are entitled to hear his testimony. His refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena is completely unacceptable and demonstrates that he believes he is above the law.
Today’s vote shows that the United States House of Representatives will not be intimidated or deterred. We have a responsibility to get to the bottom of this horrific attack in order to prevent future threats to our democracy, and that is exactly what we will do.”
As Democrats, and nine Republicans, sought to hold Bannon accountable, other Republican House members used the vote to mischaracterize, lie about and even support the Jan. 6 attacks, during which at least 140 police officers were injured. Those Republicans also sought to make impassioned speeches defending Trump, and expressing their loyalty to him.
The former president issued a brief statement in which he again attempted to invalidate the results of the presidential election and referred to the insurrection as a “protest.”
To date, despite continued and repeated claims of voter fraud, dozens of audits and recounts and investigations — most of them conducted by Republican officials — have produced zero evidence of widespread fraud, or even errors. In fact, in most cases, fraud that has been uncovered was found to have assisted Trump, and adjusted vote totals following recounts have typically only widened President Biden’s margin of victory.
Trump has also directed his former aides to ignore the congressional subpoenas originating from the Jan. 6 committee, and he told them to deny all requests for relevant documents, citing executive privilege. However, such privilege would not extend to Bannon, who was not working in the White House during either the planning of the rally that led to the insurrection, or the insurrection itself. Other potential witnesses face similar issues.
It’s unclear if the Justice Department will carry through with the prosecution of Bannon. Under the law, he faces up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison for ignoring the subpoena. Attorney General Merrick Garland has declined to state publicly whether he’ll pursue the prosecution, but President Biden has said he believes anyone who ignores a subpoena should face the appropriate consequences.