WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Home committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol set a vote subsequent week to suggest that Stephen Okay. Bannon, a former prime adviser to President Donald J. Trump, face legal contempt expenses for refusing to adjust to a subpoena.
The transfer would escalate what’s shaping as much as be a significant authorized battle between the choose committee and the previous president over entry to essential witnesses and paperwork that might make clear what precipitated the riot, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and disrupted Congress’s formal rely of the votes that confirmed President Biden’s election.
It got here after Mr. Bannon knowledgeable the panel that he would defy a subpoena in accordance with a directive from Mr. Trump, who has informed former aides and advisers that they need to not cooperate with the inquiry as a result of he’s claiming govt privilege, which might protect White Home deliberations or paperwork involving the president from disclosure.
“Mr. Bannon has declined to cooperate with the choose committee and is as a substitute hiding behind the previous president’s inadequate, blanket and obscure statements concerning privileges he has presupposed to invoke,” Consultant Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, stated in a press release. “We reject his place totally. The choose committee is not going to tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we should transfer ahead with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for legal contempt.”
Beneath federal legislation, any particular person summoned as a congressional witness who refuses to conform can face a misdemeanor cost that carries a high quality of $100 to $100,000 and a jail sentence of 1 month to at least one yr.
The committee, which is managed by Democrats, is anticipated to comply with pursue such penalties on Tuesday. That may ship the contempt quotation to the total Home, the place Democrats nearly definitely have the votes to approve it. The matter would then be despatched to the Justice Division with a suggestion that officers pursue a authorized case in opposition to Mr. Bannon.
The cumbersome process displays a difficult actuality that Democrats are grappling with as they work to push ahead within the inquiry. Congress is a legislative physique, not a legislation enforcement entity, and its skill to compel cooperation and punish wrongdoing is inherently restricted. Its investigative instruments are solely as highly effective because the courts determine, and the method of waging authorized fights to safe essential data and witnesses is prone to be a chronic one.
Robert J. Costello, a lawyer for Mr. Bannon, stated in a letter to the committee on Wednesday that his consumer wouldn’t produce paperwork or testimony “till such time as you attain an settlement with President Trump” on claims of govt privilege “or obtain a court docket ruling.”
The Biden administration has declined to increase the privilege to Mr. Trump, however the query might find yourself within the courts. And within the case of Mr. Bannon, who has not been an govt department official since he left the White Home in 2017, the declare is especially tenuous, because it pertains to conversations or paperwork in regards to the Jan. 6 assault.
In its first batch of subpoenas, the choose committee ordered 4 former Trump administration officers — Mr. Bannon; Mark Meadows, the White Home chief of employees; Dan Scavino Jr., a deputy chief of employees; and Kash Patel, a Pentagon chief of employees — to take a seat for depositions this week and supply paperwork and different supplies related to its investigation.
The committee has stated Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patel had been speaking with the panel. A supply with information of the committee’s negotiations stated that lawmakers had been prone to grant the 2 males a delay earlier than testifying. Mr. Scavino was served along with his subpoena final week.
On Wednesday, the committee issued a subpoena to Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Division official who was concerned in Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The committee’s motion got here the identical day it heard prolonged closed-door testimony from Jeffrey A. Rosen, the previous appearing legal professional basic, who has testified publicly and privately concerning the last days of the Trump administration, when the previous president was urgent prime officers to make use of the Justice Division to advance false claims of fraud and invalidate the election consequence.
In personal testimony earlier than the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Rosen stated that Mr. Clark had informed him that Mr. Trump was on the brink of fireplace Mr. Rosen and endorse Mr. Clark’s technique of pursuing conspiracy theories concerning the hacking of voting cubicles and election fraud.
“Effectively, I don’t get to be fired by somebody who works for me,” Mr. Rosen stated he informed Mr. Clark.