The House Select Committee, which is investigating riots on Jan. 6 at the Capitol in the United States, is threatening to hand out references to criminal contempt after a lawyer for former Trump strategist Steve Bannon said his client would not cooperate with subpoenas.
Bannon was one of four advisers to former President Donald Trump facing a Thursday deadline to hand over documents related to today’s events, along with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former social media director Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel, who was chief of staff to Trump’s Secretary of Defense.
In a joint statement, committee chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., And vice-chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. “While Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patel so far is in dialogue with the select committee, Mr Bannon has indicated that he will try to hide behind vague references to the former president’s privileges. “
The opinion did not mention Scavino.
Thompson and Cheney said the committee “fully expects all of these witnesses to comply with our demands for both documents and submission statements,” and “we will not allow any witness to defy a lawful summons or attempt to run out of time, and we will quickly consider promoting a criminal contempt for congressional referral. “
Such a reference would essentially ask the Department of Justice to prosecute a person for contempt of Congress. If convicted, the person could be fined or up to a year behind bars.
In a letter to the Oct. 7 committee, Bannon attorney Robert Costello said he had been told by Trump’s attorney Justin Clark that Trump planned to claim “executive and other privileges.” “(U) until these issues are resolved, we will not be able to respond to your request for documents and testimony,” Costello wrote.
He added: “We will abide by the instructions of the courts when and if they rule on these claims from both the executive and legal client privileges” – even though Bannon is not a lawyer and Trump has not yet filed a lawsuit.
Unlike Meadows, Scavino and Patel, Bannon was not a member of the administration when he advised Trump in the run-up to January 6th. NBC News legal analyst Glenn Kirschner said it would do so much more difficult for Bannon to try to claim executive privilege.
Trump has also sought to assert executive privilege to block the National Archives from handing over documents from his presidency to the committee, but Biden White House has denied at least one such request, NBC News reported Friday.
A source familiar with the matter on Thursday confirmed reports that Trump has instructed his former aides to defy the subpoenas.
A Meadows representative declined to comment.
In a statement Friday, Patel said: “I can confirm that I have responded to the summons in a timely manner. Other than that, I will not comment on my confidentiality with the committee. But I can assure you that I will continue to tell the truth.”
Bannon, who Trump fired from the White House in 2017, was indicted in August last year for federal fraud and money laundering.
Prosecutors alleged that Bannon’s crowdfunding “We Build the Wall” campaign took hundreds of thousands of donated dollars and used them for personal expenses.
Trump gave him pardon during his last term.
Carrie So., Hallie Jackson, Daniel Barnes and Leigh Ann Caldwell the contribution.