The House Committee investigating January’s Capitol riots voted unanimously Tuesday night to hold longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Bannon has defied a subpoena from the committee for documents and testimony. The video above shows the vote, as well as opening statements from the committee’s chair and vice chair.
“It’s shocking to me, shocking that anyone would not do anything in their power to assist our investigation,” committee chairman Bennie Thompson said during opening statements of Tuesday’s meeting. “So it’s a shame that Mr. Bannon has put us in this position. But we won’t take no for an answer.”
Rep. Thompson announced the vote would be happening late last week. The committee says it is pursuing Bannon’s testimony because of his reported communications with Trump ahead of the riots, as well as his Jan. 5 comments saying “all hell is going to break loose” the next day.
A lawyer for former President Trump has argued Bannon should not disclose information because it is protected by the privilege of the former president’s office. The committee countered by saying Bannon is not protected because he was a private citizen when he spoke to Trump ahead of the attack.
“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do, however, appear to reveal one thing,” committee vice chairwoman Liz Cheney said. “They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of Jan. 6, and this committee will get to the bottom of that.”
The Tuesday evening committee vote sends the resolution to hold Bannon in contempt to the full House. Representatives are expected to vote on the measure Thursday. House approval would send the matter to the Justice Department, who would have the final say on whether to pursue criminal charges against Bannon.
Suggesting that Bannon defy his subpoena is not the only way Trump and his legal team are trying to impede the investigation. On Monday, Trump filed a lawsuit to block the release of documents related to the riots. Trump said the committee’s request for documents was “almost limitless in scope”. He claimed the committee sought records that weren’t connected to the riots, calling the request a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition” that was “untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose”.
Rep. Liz Cheney, (R) Wyoming, Committee Vice Chair: “Mr. Chairman, I move that the committee favorably report to the House the committee’s report on a resolution, recommending that the House of Representatives find Stephen K. Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol as amended.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D) Mississppi. Committee Chair: “The question on the motion is favorable to report to the House those in favor say I I those polls know an opinion. The chair is the ayes have it. (Rep. Cheney) Mr. Chairman, I request recorded vote.”
“The expectation of this committee is that all witnesses will cooperate with our investigation. Witnesses who have been subpoenaed have a legal obligation to do so. And when you think about what we are investigating a violent attack on the seat of our democracy perpetrated by fellow citizens on our constitution, an attempt to stop the certification of an election. It’s shocking to me, shocking that anyone would not do anything in their power to assist our investigation. So it’s a shame that Mr. Bannon has put us in this position. But we won’t take no for an answer.”
“Mr Bannon stands alone in his complete defiance of our subpoena. That’s not acceptable. No one in this country, no matter how wealthy or how powerful, is above the law. Left unaddressed, this defiance may encourage others to follow Mr Bannon down the same path.”
Rep. Liz Cheney, (R) Wyoming, Committee Vice Chair: “The day before this all occurred on January 5th, Mr Bannon publicly professed knowledge that quote All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. End quote. He forecast that the day would be quote extraordinarily different than what most Americans expected. He said to his listeners and his viewers quote, so many people said If I was in a revolution, I would be in Washington. Well, he said, this is your time in history. Based on the committee’s investigation, it appears that Mr. Bannon had substantial advance knowledge of the plans for January 6th and likely had an important role in formulating those plans. Mr. Bannon was in the war room at the Willard (Hotel) on January 6th. He also appears to have detailed knowledge regarding the president’s efforts to sell millions of Americans the fraud that the election was stolen. In the words of many who participated in the January 6th attack, the violence that day was in direct response to President Trump’s repeated claims from Election Night through Jan. 6 that he had won the election. The American people are entitled to Mr Bannon’s firsthand testimony about all of these relevant facts. But as the chairman noted, Mr Bannon is refusing to provide it. Preserving our constitution and the rule of law is a central purpose of this investigation. The plain fact here is that Mr. Bannon has no legal right to ignore the committee’s lawful subpoena.”
“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do, however, appear to reveal one thing. They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January six, and this committee will get to the bottom of that.”