House committee issues report on contempt of Steve Bannon – JURIST – News

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The United States House of Representatives special committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol on Monday released a report of criminal contempt against the US ally. former President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon. The report details the steps taken by the committee to give Bannon the opportunity to comply with the subpoena issued to him and his repeated failures to respond.

The report contains, among other things, a list of documents requested by the committee when sending the summons. This included “Bannon’s” presence, purpose, statements and activities at a meeting with members of Congress at the Willard Hotel on January 5, 2021 “and all” public relations, publicity or other communications to persuade Americans that the election was stolen. Bannon has since refused to provide a single document in response or to appear for his testimony on October 14, 2021.

On October 7, Bannon’s attorney, Robert J. Costello, sent a letter to the committee hours after Bannon was required to provide documents, stating that this client refused to comply with the summons. Costello cited a letter from Trump’s attorney, Justin Clark, ordering Bannon not to comply with the subpoena until an agreement involving executive privilege is reached.

The committee’s report addresses this claim of executive privilege, referring to the majority of Costello and Trump’s claims as concluding statements without legal analysis. Executive privilege is the power of the president or other senior executive officials to deny certain forms of confidential information to the courts. There has been no formal invocation of any kind of executive privilege by the former president, or any employee of the executive branch.

The committee then underlined that “[a]At no point during the period under investigation by the select committee was Mr Bannon a government employee, let alone a key White House adviser in the president’s office. The committee said Bannon was a private citizen at the time the information is sought, and that executive privilege law does not extend to discussions between the president and private citizens. Finally, the committee argued that much of the information it requests from Bannon has nothing to do with his conversations with Trump and should not be protected.

A copy of the committee’s subpoena to Bannon can be found here, along with a more detailed outline of the information requested on pages 12 and 13 of this document.

This report is a criminal contempt report, marking the first step in a long process moving forward in detaining Bannon on criminal contempt for failing to comply with the subpoena. Many lawmakers on the committee believe the end goal is to force Bannon to testify. By forcing Bannon to testify, lawmakers hope to send a message to others that there are consequences to evading subpoenas.

If the report leaves the committee, it is referred to the House of Representatives. If certified by the House of Representatives, the report would be sent to the US prosecutor for trial by a grand jury. Anyone found guilty of contempt of Congress faces a fine and between one and twelve months in prison. However, this sanction is rarely invoked and experts believe it would be more of a warning than a comprehensive solution.


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