The House on Thursday voted in a bipartisan fashion to hold former Trump political strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress after he failed to respond to a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee and show up for testimony earlier this month.
The committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, led floor debate on the issue alongside Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming’s sole congressperson and vice-chair of the committee, one of two GOP members on the panel.
Nevertheless, the vote was 229-202, with nine Republicans ultimately siding with all Democrats in voting to hold Bannon in contempt. Critics of Republicans who voted “no” said Congress’ authority to compel testimony was at stake.
Now, the matter will go to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., where officials there will decide — likely in consultation with the U.S. attorney general’s office — whether to proceed with a prosecution against Bannon. If so, the case will be presented to a grand jury.
“We will not allow anyone to derail our work, because our work is too important,” Thompson said before lawmakers voted.
Cheney, from the House floor on Thursday, also offered criticism for former President Donald Trump, whom she has blamed for instigating the riot.
“He must have been aware of, and may well have been involved in, the planning of everything that played out on that day. The American people deserve to know what he knew and what he did,” she said.
The nine Republicans who voted to refer Bannon for criminal prosecution including Cheney were Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, the second GOP member of the Jan. 6 committee; Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan; Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina; Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania; Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; Rep. John Katko of New York; Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan; and Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler of Washington.
“Mr. Bannon’s willful disregard for the select committee’s subpoena demonstrates his utter contempt for the American people’s right to know how the attacks on January 6 came about,” Kinzinger noted.
“His own words strongly suggest that the actions of the mob that stormed the Capitol and invaded this very chamber came as no surprise to him. He and a few others, were by all accounts, involved in planning that day’s events and encouraged by those who attacked the Capitol, our officers and our democracy,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted a photo of her signing the resolution.
We have a duty to the Constitution & the country to find the truth of the #January6th attack.
Steve Bannon has information central to this investigation – but is defying a Congressional subpoena. That is why the House today held him in contempt of Congress on a bipartisan vote. pic.twitter.com/2ub8OcWBS3
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) October 21, 2021
Mace went on to explain her vote in interviews with local media.
“This isn’t rocket science. It’s actually pretty simple,” said Mace, a freshman who had the backing of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), during her 2020 race.
“I want the ability to investigate and have subpoena power in the future, and I don’t want to water that down in the future because there are things I’m going to want to investigate. It goes both ways, right? This is a bipartisan issue,” she noted of her decision — which put her at odds with the rest of South Carolina’s GOP congressional delegation, according to local reports.
Thompson echoed Mace’s sentiment in remarks following the vote.
“To my colleagues who choose to vote against enforcing the subpoena, you are saying to all future men and women who are called before this body that they can ignore a subpoena from Congress without consequence,” he said, according to ABC News.
“The consequences of that vote won’t be limited to this investigation and this subpoena alone. Your vote will be given serious long-lasting damage to Congress. And that, in turn, will do serious damage to our country which we all love dearly,” he added.
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