The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack will move forward with criminal charges against Steve Bannon, an adviser to former President Donald Trump who is openly defying a subpoena, committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) announced Thursday.
Bannon risks paying a fine or spending up to a year behind bars for refusing to cooperate with the panel’s demands for information about conversations he may have had with Trump around the time of the rioting. He missed a deadline last week, and refused to appear Thursday for a hearing.
“The Select Committee will not tolerate the defiance of our subpoenas,” Thompson said in a statement.
The committee is scheduled to convene next week to vote on “adopting a contempt report.” If that vote succeeds, the report would be referred to the full House. Then, if it passed, it would be certified by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and sent to the Washington, D.C., district attorney, who would bring the matter before a grand jury.
Three other Trump associates faced subpoena deadlines last week: former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Defense Department official Kash Patel and former White House social media chief Dan Scavino. But none are flouting the committee’s orders as openly as Bannon.
“The select committee has agreed to short postponements of Mr. Patel’s and Mr. Meadows’s appearances as they continue to engage with our investigation,” a committee aide who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter told HuffPost. “Because service of Mr. Scavino’s subpoena was delayed, the select committee has postponed his scheduled deposition.”
A fourth Trump associate, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, was issued a subpoena Wednesday. He has been ordered to take committee members’ questions at a hearing Oct. 29.
Thompson said Thursday that he plans to use “every tool” at his disposal to obtain information on the Jan. 6 attack, and that “witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed.”
“We’re grateful to the many individuals who are voluntarily participating and to witnesses who are complying with subpoenas, including several who met the deadline to begin producing materials,” he said.
Bannon has argued through his attorney that he does not have the right to respond to the subpoena because Trump has signaled that he intends to fight the committee’s efforts to get its hands on information about his actions on Jan. 6 and the days leading up to it.
Trump, also through an attorney, has cited executive privilege, the concept that presidents have the right to keep some conversations and other information secret in order to encourage frank discussion with aides.
President Joe Biden’s White House has significant power in the matter: Because the Jan. 6 commission has also asked the National Archives for a sweeping array of information relating to the attack, Biden could have sided with Trump and moved to block the national archivist from releasing the documents. Presidents, generally, do not like setting a precedent that chips away at executive privilege.
But Biden will do no such thing. Citing the “unique and extraordinary circumstances” of the Capitol riot and Trump’s efforts to undermine democracy, White House counsel Dana Remus told the National Archives last week to release the information requested by the committee ― a trove that includes a wide array of communications, photos and videos, among other records.