Trump adviser Bannon criminally charged for defying Jan. 6 subpoena

Bannon has refused to comply with the subpoena seeking documents and his testimony

By Reuters

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Stephen Bannon. — AP file
Stephen Bannon. — AP file

Published: Sat 13 Nov 2021, 1:54 AM

Stephen Bannon, a longtime adviser to former US President Donald Trump, has been criminally charged for failing to comply with a subpoena issued by a House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the Justice Department said on Friday.

Bannon has refused to comply with the subpoena seeking documents and his testimony, citing Trump’s insistence — already rejected by one judge — that he has a legal right under a legal principle known as executive privilege to keep those communications confidential.

Bannon, 67, was charged with one count of contempt of Congress involving his refusal to appear for a deposition and another involving his refusal to produce documents, the Justice Department said.

Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanour punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $100,000.

Bannon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “Today’s charges reflect the department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.”

Bannon served as chief strategist for Trump in the White House after playing a senior role in his 2016 election campaign. Bannon remained an adviser to Trump even after he departed his White House job in what was described at the time as a mutual agreement.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives voted 229 to 202 on October 21 to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress, with nine Republicans joining Democrats to recommend charges against Bannon.

Most of Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress opposed creating either an independent commission or a select committee to investigate the events surrounding January 6.

On that day, a mob of Trump supporters rioted at the Capitol in a failed bid to prevent formal congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory over the businessman-turned-politician. Before the riot, Trump had given a speech to his supporters repeating his false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread election fraud and urging them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” to “stop the steal”.

The January 6 Select Committee has said that Bannon made public statements suggesting he knew ahead of time about “extreme events” that would take place on January 6. Bannon said on a January 5 podcast that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow”.

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