Update (11/15/21): Nearly a month after the House voted to hold longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress, and three days after he was indicted on two counts of criminal contempt, Bannon surrendered to federal authorities Monday. The video above shows some of the comments he and his attorney made after his court appearance. The indictment includes two counts — one for refusing to appear for a congressional deposition and the other for refusing to provide documents in response to the committee’s subpoena.
According to the indictment, Bannon didn’t communicate with the committee in any way from the time he received the subpoena on Sept. 24 until Oct. 7. His lawyer eventually sent a letter to the committee seven hours after the documents were due.
“I’m telling you right now this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Joe Biden ordered Merrick Garland to prosecute me from the White House lawn when he got off Marine One,” Bannon said after his hearing. “And we’re going to do, we’re going to go on the offense. We’re tired of playing defense. We’re going to go on the offense on this and stand by.”
Original Story (10/21/21): The House of Representatives voted to hold longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress Thursday afternoon. The video above shows clip from Thursday’s vote. It came two days after the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riots did the same.
The final House vote to hold Bannon in contempt was 229-202. All Democrats voted to hold Bannon in contempt, with all but nine Republicans voting against. One of those nine Republicans was Rep. Liz Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the committee.
“Mr. Bannon’s own public statements make clear he knew what was going to happen before it did, and thus he must have been aware of — and may well have been involved in — the planning of everything that played out on that day,” Rep. Cheney said ahead of the vote. “The American people deserve to know what he knew and what he did.”
Other Republicans called the investigation a “witch hunt” and said there were more important issues for Congress to deal with. Rep. Jim Banks, led the GOP opposition on the floor. He called the probe an “illicit criminal investigation into American citizens” and referred to Bannon as a “Democrat Party boogeyman.”
The decision on whether to press contempt charges against Bannon now heads from the House to the Justice Department. Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed the contempt vote in his testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee Thursday. However, he gave little indication as to what the department will do.
“If the House of Representatives votes for a referral of a contempt charge, the Department of Justice will do what it always does in such circumstances,” Garland said. “It will apply the facts and the law and make a decision consistent with the principles of prosecution.”
Even if the Justice Department does decide to prosecute, the case could take years to play out. It could potentially go past the 2022 midterm elections. That means Republicans could end the investigation if they win control of the House.
David Schoen, Attorney: “Ordinarily, we don’t like to comment on the case. We have an obligation to respond to something that Attorney General Garland wrote. Attorney General Garland wrote ‘we promised Justice Department employees we’d show the American people by word and deed the Justice Department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and pursues justice under the law.’ I assume here you can take off your masks? (Reporters: yes, we’re outdoors. Bannon: It’s a free country)
There is nothing about this case that reflects the pursuit of equal justice under the law. This thing was a scam from the beginning. The committee that was convened here, was convened exclusively with people who have made prejudgments and announced them publicly. The chair of the committee sued President Trump personally, and and before he was even appointed to his position, determined and put in writing that President Trump was responsible for the events of January 6th. This is not an investigative committee. There’s nothing to investigate when he’s made a prejudgment. Now, other members of the committee who announced their prejudgments well in advance. It’s not equal justice under the law, Mr. Garland, to charge a matter like this criminally. The holder of the privilege in this case, executive privilege, invoked the privilege. Mr. Bannon is a layperson when the privilege has been invoked by the purported holder of privilege, he has no choice, but to withhold the documents. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Mr. Bannon acted as his lawyer counseled him to do by not appearing, and by not and by not turning over documents in this case, he didn’t refuse to comply. He made it quite clear that if the court ordered him to comply, he would do that. But he had an obligation to honor the privilege that was invoked. And in terms of prosecuting this criminally, it violates settled Department of Justice policy that’s binding on the executive branch. It is outrageous that a criminal charge be brought this case. It is a misdemeanor, but it’s being treated as if it were a capital case. Mr. Bannon, takes this very seriously. It’s outrageous what the government did in principles of equal justice under law that Attorney General Garland speaks about a vitally important one. And we all lose as Americans, when they’re selectively used and when we violate that principle.”
Steve Bannon, Former Trump Aide: “It’s freedom of speech, they’ve got their opinions, we have our opinions. But hang on, they have their opinions. I’m telling you right now this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Joe Biden ordered Merrick Garland to prosecute me from the White House lawn when he got off Marine One. And we’re going to do, we’re going to go on the offense. We’re tired of playing defense. We’re going to go on the offense on this and stand by.”
David Schoen, Attorney: “There is nothing criminal about any conduct that occurred in this case. And when we respond to Merrick Garland, we say apply the, apply the law equally. Who else do they prosecute for invoking executive privilege in a criminal prosecution? Read the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel’s letters. It’s unconstitutional, according to their own opinions from some real luminaries, including, by the way, read the Office of Legal Counsel opinion by the way of Eric Holder for the Obama administration, the Fast and the Furious case. This is unheard of, to force a person to violate the invocation of executive privilege. And by the way, I mean the court, of course, hasn’t ruled yet in President Trump’s case in Trump vs. Thompson and whether executive privilege applies. But even beyond that, the Office of Legal Counsel opinions made clear that it applies to discussions with former government officials, and that makes sense. It makes sense because we often see former officials kept in the loop that the president needs to consult with. Whatever you happen to think the president, President Trump talked about at the time. That’s what executive privilege exists for, so that people can speak freely with the president, talk about strategy matters to talk about national security and other important matters.”
Presiding House officer reads the vote tally: “On this vote, the yeas are 229, the nays are 202. The resolution is adopted and without objection. The motion to reconsider is laid on the table.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson, House Select Committee Chairman: “Mr. Bannon stands alone in his defiance, and we will not stand for it. We will not allow anyone to derail our work because our work is too important, helping ensure that the future of American democracy is strong and sure, and secure.”
Rep. Liz Cheney, (R) Wyoming: “Mr. Bannon’s own public statements made it clear he knew what was going to happen before it did, and thus he must have been aware of and may well 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.”
Rep. Jim Banks, (R) Indiana: “Congress is prohibited from conducting criminal investigations. Period. But that’s exactly what the select committee is doing, conducting an illicit criminal investigation into an American citizen. Steve Bannon was a private citizen before, after and during January 6. So why is the select committee interested in Steve Bannon? It’s simple. He is a Democrat Party boogeyman.”