Lawmakers investigating the deadly attack on the US Capitol said on Thursday they were facing criminal contempt charges for refusing to testify for a key aide of former President Donald Trump.
Former White House adviser Steve Bannon had already made clear that he had no intention of complying with a subpoena to appear Thursday before a cross-party congressional select committee on January 6.
The right-wing strategist told the panel he would withhold testimony and documents until Trump’s claim of “executive privilege” that allows presidents to keep some conversations with aides a secret.
“We completely reject his position,” committee chairman Benny Thompson said in a statement.
“The selection committee will not tolerate defiance of our summons, so we must proceed with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt.”
Thompson said the panel – which is integrated into its purpose of enforcing the subpoena – will meet on Tuesday next week to vote on adopting the contempt report of the case against Bannon, Thompson said.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will vote to refer Bannon to the Justice Department to consider the charges.
A timetable for that decision is yet to be disclosed. If convicted, Bannon would face up to 12 months in prison, but likely a higher fine.
Thousands of Trump supporters, many of whom were affiliated with ultra-nationalist and white supremacist groups, marched into the Capitol eight months ago in an attempt to reverse President Joe Biden’s election victory.
He was provoked by Trump, whose fiery speech earlier that day of falsely claiming election fraud was the culmination of months of unsubstantiated claims about a contest he lost to Biden.
A comfortable majority of 57 senators – including seven from their own party – voted to convict Trump after he was impeached by the House for rioting, though it was the only two required under Senate rules to remove the president. Less than a third majority. .
Bannon himself was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering in August last year after allegedly defrauding thousands of donors to help build Trump’s wall on the southern border.
Trump pardoned Bannon in the final hours of the former president’s White House term.
Trump opponents saw the move as a “thank you” to the former president after Bannon refused to cooperate with the House investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
6 Committee member Adam Schiff told MSNBC on Wednesday, “He felt he could do it because he would never be held in contempt, he would never be prosecuted by the Trump Justice Department. “
“But those days are over. It is necessary for our investigation. But I also see it as enforcement of the rule of law, whether our democracy is recovering or not.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)