Former White House adviser Steve Bannon issued a threat Monday against the Biden administration, promising to make the contempt of Congress charges against him “the misdemeanor from hell.”
Bannon, who joined the campaign of then-GOP nominee Donald Trump in 2016 before following him into the Oval Office, made his remarks after a court appearance following his indictment for defying a congressional subpoena.
A grand jury returned the indictment on Friday after the Biden Justice Department filed two criminal contempt of Congress charges, alleging that Bannon failed to “comply in any way” for a document request and to show up for a deposition by the House Select Committee on Jan. 6, the Democrat-controlled panel looking into the Capitol riot.
“I’m telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden. … We’re going on the offense,” said Bannon, in reference to the U.S. attorney general and Speaker of the House, as he left the courtroom.
“They took on the wrong guy this time; they took on the wrong guys,” he added.
Bannon turned himself in to federal officials on Monday and was summarily released without bond. He was required to turn over his passport and check in with a federal court every week until his case is adjudicated. He faces from 30 days to 1 year in jail for each charge if convicted, and could be fined up to $200,000. He will be arraigned on Thursday; it’s believed he’ll plead not guilty.
“I want you guys to stay focused, stay on message. Remember signal, not noise,” Bannon said during a live stream in the social media platform GETTR on Monday. “I don’t want anybody to take your eye off the ball of what we do every day.”
The DOJ filing came as pressure continued to mount on the Jan. 6 committee to act after several former Trump officials had either defied congressional subpoenas as well or were planning to do so. That includes former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, who refused to show for a deposition on Friday.
It’s not clear if the panel, which only has two Republican members, will request the Justice Department seek charges against anyone else who has defied a subpoena issued by the committee.
“Mr. Bannon will comply with our investigation or he will face the consequences. Maybe he’s willing to be a martyr to the disgraceful cause of whitewashing what happened on January 6th — of demonstrating his complete loyalty to the former president,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee’s chairman, after the panel initially voted to refer him to the Justice Department on contempt charges last month.
“So I want other witnesses to understand something very plainly: if you’re thinking of following the path Mr. Bannon has gone down, you’re on notice that this is what you’ll face,” Thompson noted further.
The committee wants to question the former Trump adviser over his proximity to Trump in the lead-up to the Capitol riot and whether he had any role in planning it, to include attending a “war room” session at the Willard Hotel where the former president’s team met.
For his part, Bannon told reporters upon leaving the courthouse that he isn’t taking his stance simply on behalf of the former president.
“Not just Trump people and not just conservatives — every progressive, every liberal in this country that likes freedom of speech and liberty should be fighting for this case. That’s why I’m here today: for everybody. I’m never going to back down,” he said.
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