The Democrat-led House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol breach voted on Tuesday to hold conservative podcast host Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for documents and testimony.
The resolution will now move for approval by the House, where Democrats hold a slim majority and will likely approve the measure. Should the House approve the contempt resolution, the Department of Justice will decide whether to pursue charges.
Bannon played a major role in Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and took a post as a White House aide before leaving to headline a popular conservative podcast. He did not respond to a request for comment on the contempt vote.
The contempt resolution argues that Bannon has no legal standing to defy the subpoena. Trump’s attorney argued that Bannon should not comply because the information requested is protected by the former president’s executive privilege.
The committee says it wants Bannon’s documents and testimony because he was in touch with Trump before the Jan. 6 incident, because he tried to get Trump to focus on the congressional certification of the election results, and because he said on Jan. 5 that “all hell is going to break loose” the next day.
Bannon “appears to have had multiple roles relevant to this investigation, including his role in constructing and participating in the ‘stop the steal’ public relations effort that motivated the attack” and “his efforts to plan political and other activity in advance of Jan. 6,” the committee alleged in the resolution.
Ahead of Tuesday’s contempt vote, Trump filed a lawsuit seeking to block the committee from obtaining White House records.
President Joe Biden said yes last week when asked whether the Department of Justice should prosecute those who defy the committee’s subpoenas. The DOJ responded by saying it will make its own decisions.
“If the House of Representatives certifies a criminal contempt citation, the Department of Justice, as with all criminal referrals, will evaluate the matter based on the facts and the law, consistent with the Principles of Federal Prosecution,” a DOJ spokesperson told news outlets in a statement.
While Bannon has said he needs a court order before complying with his subpoena, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former White House and Pentagon aide Kash Patel have been negotiating with the committee. The panel has also subpoenaed more than a dozen people who helped plan Trump rallies ahead of Jan. 6, and some of them are already turning over documents and giving testimony.
The Republican-majority Senate exonerated Trump of the impeachment charges tied to the Jan. 6 events.