The House voted 229-202 on Thursday to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress after refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify before the select committee probing the January 6 Capitol attack.
Nine Republicans joined all 220 Democrats in the lower chamber to pass the measure, which was brought to the floor after the 1/6 commission and House Rules Committee voted earlier this week to bring the matter to the full body.
Along with GOP panel members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the seven other Republicans who voted for the measure are Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania; Anthony Fonzalez of Ohio; Herrera Beutler of Washington; John Katko of New York; Nancy Mace of South Carolina; and Peter Meijer and Fred Upton of Michigan.
The only representative who did not cast a vote on Thursday was Indiana Republican Congressman Greg Pence, the brother of Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence.
‘If you act deliberately with sneering, cavalier contempt for the American people,’ said Representative Jamie Raskin, a member of the committee, ‘we will hold you in contempt.’
‘We will get to the truth of the violent assault on America,’ the Maryland Democrat continued.
The resolution will now be handed over to the Justice Department, where there is still uncertainty over whether Joe Biden’s team will move to prosecute Bannon.
Attorney General Merrick Garland would not say during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday whether the DOJ would move forward with bringing criminal contempt charges against Bannon.
‘Some representatives’ votes for referral of a contempt charge, the Department of Justice will do what it always does in such circumstances – apply the facts of the law and make a decision consistent with the principles of prosecution,’ Garland said, in deflecting directly answering the question.
The House voted 229-202 on Thursday to hold Steve Bannon (pictured) in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena to testify before the House Select Committee probing the January 6 Capitol attack
Rep. Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans on the select committee, said Thursday that Bannon ‘must have been aware’ of the impending attack based on a podcast he did the day before – January 5
All 220 Democrats voted for the measure, with nine Republicans joining. Only one member did not cast a vote at all – former Vice President Mike Pence’s brother Indiana Rep. Greg Pence
Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans on the select committee, said Thursday that Bannon ‘must have been aware’ of the impending attack based on a podcast he did the day before – January 5.
‘He must have been aware of, and may well have been involved in, the planning of everything that played out on that day,’ Cheney said of Bannon in remarks from the House floor. ‘The American people deserve to know what he knew and what he did.’
Cheney is joined by fellow anti-Trump Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois on the January 6 commission.
When the commission was created back in May, 30 Republicans voted for the proposal.
The contempt resolution will now be sent to Channing Phillips, the acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, who will decide with other Justice officials whether to bring criminal contempt charges against Bannon.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, in appearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, would not commit to brining charges against Bannon if the resolution is passed by the House – instead saying DOJ will ‘follow the facts’
The entire process could take several months to play out, which will hinder the congressional probe – but Democrats feel the action must be taken to preserve the authority of the panel and preserve the integrity of the investigation.
GOP panel member Cheney insisted on Thursday that Bannon’s testimony is crucial to the probe into January 6, claiming his comment the day before suggest that he knew the events were going to unfold as they did that day.
‘Listen to Steve Bannon talking about #January6th. The American people deserve to hear his testimony,’ Cheney tweeted along with a video of images of the attack coupled with images of the violence on January 6.
In Bannon’s ‘War Room’ podcast on January 5, he said: ‘Just understand this, all hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It’s going to be moving, it’s going to be quick. This is not a day for fantasy, this is a day for maniacal focus. Focus, focus, focus.’
‘We’re coming in right over the target, okay? Exactly, this is the point of attack we’ve always wanted,’ he continued in the audio clip.
Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, a Trump ally, said: ‘Why are we here on the floor of the House of Representatives listening to the Democrats and socialists and their Republican puppets reviewing Steve Bannon’s podcast?’
The 9/11-style committee crafted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to probe the January 6 riot voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to hold Bannon in contempt, which then led to a House Rules Committee vote on Wednesday for a procedure for the House to hold a full floor vote on holding Bannon in contempt of Congress.
Bannon argued to the panel that Donald Trump’s lawyers have instructed him not to testify on the grounds of executive privilege. But the panel says there is no ground for such an exemption because Bannon was not working for the administration at the time of the attack
The full floor vote is expected to pass will full Democrats support and some from Republicans, including the two GOP members on the nine-member panel – anti-Trump Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming (left) and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois (right)
After the vote Thursday, the matter will be sent to acting U.S. Attorney for DC Channing Phillips who will decide whether to bring criminal contempt charges against Bannon
Justice officials, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, will decide if they will prosecute Bannon for refusing to comply with the subpoena to testify.
Garland testified Thursday at an oversight hearing before the House Judiciary Committee and so far was asked at least one question about the impending Bannon case – and the attorney general is likely to yield more about the DOJ’s prosecution of January 6 defendants.
So far, more than 600 people have been charged in the attack and it’s expected more cases will come in the next few months.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Thursday that the January 6 commission is ‘weakening the power’ of Congress by issuing what the California Republican claims are ‘invalid’ subpoenas.
‘They’re issuing an invalid subpoena – issuing an invalid subpoena weakens our power. Not if somebody votes against it,’ McCarthy said during his weekly press conference.
‘He has a right to go to the court to see if he has executive privilege or not,’ he said in defending Bannon. ‘I don’t know if he does or not, but neither does the committee.’
McCarthy added: ‘So they’re weakening the power of Congress itself by issuing invalid subpoenas.’
The GOP leader argued that the subpoenas are ‘invalid’ because he claims the committee itself is invalid because it was created without support from the minority party in the House – Republicans.
Bannon’s lawyer told the committee that Donald Trump’s lawyers have instructed Bannon not to testify on the grounds of executive privilege. But the panel says Trump has never formally asserted any executive privilege claims to the committee.
The House Select Committee (pictured) probing the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters voted unanimously on Tuesday to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress
The panel said Bannon’s testimony is paramount, claiming he may have known ahead of time about ‘extreme events’ on January 6 (pictured). In a January 5 podcast, Bannon said: ‘All hell is going to break loose tomorrow’
They also note that Bannon, a longtime Trump ally and former aide to the ex-president, was not working in the administration at the time of the attack – therefore they claim there are no grounds for executive privilege in this case.
Trump and Bannon were still in close communication following the November 2020 election.
The panel said Bannon’s testimony is paramount to the investigation.
In a Monday report, they argued that Bannon made statements on January 5 suggesting he knew ahead of time about ‘extreme events’ on January 6, when Congress was scheduled to certify Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election against Trump.
On Wednesday, Bannon asked Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida to explain his theory that his contempt of Congress was ‘a set up’, with which the former White House chief strategist made no attempt to disagree.
Trump is also refusing to cooperate, and has told his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to do the same.
Following the Wednesday vote to further the issue, Bannon invited the staunchly pro-Trump congressman onto his show to discuss the day’s events.
‘About Merrick Garland,’ Bannon began, referencing the Attorney General. ‘Give our audience some inside baseball.’
‘You’re saying the Attorney General is coming out tomorrow,’ he continued. ‘And you’ve said for a while this is all a set up. They’ll do the committee one night, the rules the next afternoon; bring the AG up and then have the vote in the house.’
‘Walk us through – why was he coming up to Capitol Hill? What was he supposed to be doing?’
Gaetz told Bannon he believed they were witnessing a concerted attempt to persecute Bannon, saying it was a plot ‘stitched together’.
‘Merrick Garland’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow has been purposefully synced with the actions you saw in the Rules Committee today and the votes that will occur to hold you in contempt of Congress,’ Gaetz said.
Steve Bannon on Wednesday hosted Congressman Matt Gaetz on his podcast
Bannon, who served as Trump’s chief strategist in the first six months of his presidency, is refusing to cooperate with a committee investigating the Capitol riot
‘That is all being stitched together.’
Gaetz said the administration was ‘trying to create a wholly-enclosed ecosystem of the political persecution in the Congress, and the enforcement tools of the Department of Justice.’
He added: ‘I have often said that one of the scariest things I have observed is that the FBI really has become the enforcement wing of the Democratic Party in a lot of circumstances.’
Gaetz said that Jeff Sessions, Trump’s first Attorney General, had not been proactive enough for them – accusing him of being too favorable to the Democrats, who he believed run the Justice Department.
‘Sessions went over there and got Stockholm Syndrome,’ said Gaetz.
‘He became sympathetic with his captors at the Justice Department.’
Gaetz also accused Garland of holding a grudge against Republicans, pointing out that Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by Mitch McConnell.
The former president is also refusing to engage with the January 6 Committee in the House
He said the system was tainted by ‘Merrick Garland, possibly with an axe to grind vis a vis what went on with McConnell and the Supreme Court.’
Bannon asked Gaetz whether he believed Joe Biden was interfering in the case.
‘Did you think Joe Biden gave the game away when he was on the lawn and interviewed and said yeah they ought to be prosecuted?’ Bannon asked.
‘Do you think he had already worked through this? Is that what you are implying?’
Gaetz replied: ‘Biden has gaslit the Justice Department.
‘Because now it’s far more difficult for the Justice Department to throw its hands in the air and say it’s all a political squabble – which actually is what it is – because Biden is out there gaslighting them to engage in political process.’
A angry debate over Bannon’s behavior took place on Wednesday on Capitol Hill, with Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming testifying about the ‘dark day in our history’ and urging the panel not to let Bannon ignore a subpoena.
Cheney accused House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of blocking a bipartisan commission to probe the Jan. 6th Capitol riot earlier this year and intimidating fellow Republican lawmakers as a House panel conducts its probe.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney accused House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of blocking a bipartisan commission to probe the Jan. 6th Capitol riot and said fellow Republicans don’t want a ‘target on their back’
Donald Trump speaks during the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington
‘I’ve heard from a number of my colleagues in the last several days who say, they quote, just don’t want this target on their back,’ she said.
‘They’re just trying to keep their heads down. They don’t want to anger Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, who as been especially active in attempting to block the investigation of events of Jan. 6th, despite the fact that he clearly called for such a commission the week after the attack.’
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise at a Wednesday GOP conference meeting urged Republicans to vote ‘no’ on the Bannon contempt finding, CNN reported, signaling the debate will be yet another partisan clash.
Cheney told fellow lawmakers on Wednesday: ‘This contempt citation is crucial for our investigation.
‘Witnesses cannot simply ignore congressional subpoenas, when they prefer not to attend.
‘We must do everything possible to understand that dark day in our history, and to ensure to potential legislative and other actions that such a thing never happens again.’
Former President Trump came in with another statement from his Save America PAC slamming Cheney.
‘Low-polling Liz Cheney (19%) is actually very bad news for the Democrats, people absolutely cannot stand her as she fights for the people that have decimated her and her father for many years,’ Trump said.
‘She is a smug fool, and the great State of Wyoming, together with the Republican Party, fully understands her act.
‘To look at her is to despise her. Hopefully she will continue down this unsustainable path and she will soon be gone!’