Bannon dismissed the committee, citing Trump’s claim of executive privilege.
The House committee, which is examining the uprising in the Capitol on Jan. 6, will “quickly consider” holding a one-time adviser to Trump’s White House, Steve Bannon, and possibly others, in contempt of Congress for ignoring the committee’s subpoenas, said committee chair Bennie Thompson vice president Liz Cheney Friday.
The move came after Bannon formally informed the committee that he would not be able to comply with their requests, citing former President Donald Trump’s intention to invoke executive privilege. In a letter obtained by ABC News, Bannon’s lawyers said that until the case is settled in court, they will not comply with the committee’s subpoena.
The committee last month issued subpoenas to Bannon and other top Trump aides Mark Meadows, Kash Patel and Dan Scavino as part of its investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Another 11 subpoenas were broadcast last week to the organizers of the pro-Trump rally that preceded the attack.
Meadows, a former White House chief of staff and Patel, a former Pentagon official, “engages” in the committee, officials said. The committee had no update on the status of Scavino.
“While Mr Meadows and Mr Patel have so far been in dialogue with the committee, Mr Bannon has indicated that he will try to hide behind vague references to the former president’s privileges,” Thompson and Cheney said in a joint statement. “The select committee fully expects that all of these witnesses will comply with our requirements for both documents and delivery statements.”
Sources confirm to ABC News that Trump’s lawyer sent a letter to several of the subpoenas informing them that the former president wants the subpoenas ignored and that he plans to claim executive privilege. In the letter, Trump suggested he would be willing to take the case to court to block their cooperation.
But in an interview earlier this week with right-wing commentator John Solomon, Trump suggested he would have no problems with his confidants participating in the probe.
“I’m mixed because we did nothing wrong,” Trump said. “So I say, ‘Why are we hiring lawyers to do this?’ I just want everyone to come in and say what you have to say. We did nothing wrong. “
Committee officials said those ignoring the subpoenas could be held in contempt.
“While the selection committee welcomes good faith in witnesses seeking to cooperate with our investigation, we do not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out of time, and we will quickly consider promoting a criminal. contempt for congressional referral “, the statement said.
Any proposal of contempt would be approved so that the whole hall could deal with it. If adopted, the case would be referred to the Ministry of Justice for possible prosecution.
Democrats considered holding Bannon in contempt for a 2018 House Intelligence Committee subpoena, but ultimately refused to do so. The entire House voted to keep former State Attorney Bill Barr and former Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress in 2019 for ignoring the House Monitoring Committee’s subpoenas for records related to the 2020 census, but Trump’s Justice Department ignored the requests.
Trump is also seeking to block the Jan. 6 committee from accessing selected documents in the National Archives that retain control of White House records, including West Wing communications and visitor logs. On Friday, he sent a letter to the agency claiming executive privilege over a tranche of documents he said contained privileged presidential communications.
White House adviser Dara Remus said in an earlier letter to the agency that the White House “has stated that a claim for executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States” but that they would “respond accordingly” if Trump Executive Director claims privilege over only a subset of the documents.
As of Friday, the committee has issued a total of 17 subpoenas, most of which go to Trump employees and individuals affiliated with the rallies in Washington on the day of the Capitol riots.
The committee plans to schedule personal depositions with cooperating witnesses in the coming weeks.