Jan. 6 House Panel to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt of Congress

The panel plans a vote subsequent Tuesday. The full House, the place Democrats maintain a slim majority, would even have to vote to certify the contempt cost, which might outcome in a nice and a jail time period of up to 12 months. The Justice Department would nonetheless want to log off and current its case to a grand jury. In addition, Mr. Bannon would have the chance to defend himself in a trial.

In declining to cooperate, Mr. Bannon is “hiding behind the former president’s insufficient, blanket and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke. We reject his position entirely,” mentioned

Rep. Bennie Thompson

(D., Miss.), the panel chairman. “Witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed.”

Former President

Donald Trump

has mentioned he would assert govt privilege to block Mr. Bannon and different former aides from giving depositions to the committee’s investigators. Mr. Bannon wasn’t serving in authorities on the time of the assault. Such an assertion of govt privilege protecting exterior advisers and confidants has by no means been blessed by the courts.

Mr. Trump criticized the committee in a press release Thursday afternoon. “They are using prosecutors and prosecutions to destroy more than half of this Country and the people are not going to stand for it!” he mentioned.

In a letter final week, Mr. Bannon’s lawyer

Robert J. Costello

mentioned Mr. Bannon couldn’t reply to the committee’s subpoena as a result of of govt and attorney-client privilege. Mr. Costello didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark Thursday.

There is little fashionable precedent for the way a prison contempt referral by Congress might work. In a number of earlier such fights, the Justice Department has refused to act on contempt referrals from Congress. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to touch upon the potential referral.

Expectations are low that the Jan. 6 fee can be far more than a setting for a partisan meals combat. But as WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains, even partisan meals fights can carry to the floor essential info, as would possibly ongoing courtroom instances. Photo illustration: Todd Johnson

The House choose committee, led by Mr. Thompson and Vice Chair

Liz Cheney

(R., Wyo.), was established by House lawmakers in a June vote, virtually totally alongside social gathering traces after Senate Republicans blocked an earlier effort to arrange a bipartisan impartial fee. The House panel is tasked with investigating the causes and circumstances of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, when a mob of Trump supporters overwhelmed police and surged into the constructing, briefly interrupting the certification of Democrat

Joe Biden’s

Electoral College win.

Mr. Bannon was one of 4 Trump administration officers who obtained subpoenas from the committee final month. The subpoenas sought to compel them to flip over data and sit for depositions in reference to the occasions surrounding the assault.

The committee has expressed curiosity in studies that Mr. Bannon inspired Mr. Trump and members of Congress to block certification of the election on Jan. 6, in dialog with the previous president on Dec. 30 and through a gathering on the Willard Hotel on Jan. 5.

In addition to Mr. Bannon, subpoenas additionally have been despatched to former White House chief of employees

Mark Meadows

;

Dan Scavino,

former White House deputy chief of employees; and

Kashyap Patel,

who was chief of employees to the performing protection secretary on the finish of the Trump administration.

The deadline for Messrs. Bannon and Patel to seem for depositions was Thursday. Messrs. Meadows and Scavino had till Friday.

A committee aide mentioned Thursday that the panel has agreed to briefly postpone testimony from Messrs. Meadows and Patel, “as they continue to engage with the investigation.” The aide mentioned Mr. Scavino’s scheduled deposition additionally has been pushed again as a result of service of his subpoena was delayed.

Congressional Democrats hope that the Jan. 6 panel could possibly be bolstered by a Biden administration Justice Department prepared to comply with by means of with potential prison expenses in opposition to those that defy the committee’s authority.

Subpoenas from Congress in concept carry the identical authorized weight as these signed by judges, grand juries or federal companies. But missing the instruments accessible to legislation enforcement, judges and prosecutors, Congress has lengthy struggled to implement them—largely counting on the opposite two branches of authorities for assist.

Congress has two most important enforcement mechanisms: It can ask a federal prosecutor to provoke prison expenses in opposition to those that defy subpoenas, or it will possibly carry a civil case in the courts to demand compliance. The Justice Department, nonetheless, has been reluctant to cost witnesses in contempt of Congress instances—claiming that it alone decides who to carry up on prison expenses. In addition, litigation can take years.

Historically, Congress responded to recalcitrant witnesses by taking them into custody beneath its personal authority. That authority has been repeatedly blessed by courts however hasn’t been used in virtually a century.

Congress’s persistent incapability to implement its subpoenas cuts throughout events: During the Obama administration, House Republicans struggled to get testimony and paperwork in numerous investigations they have been pursuing.

After profitable the House in 2019, Democrats swiftly moved to conduct investigations—together with a Ukraine-related probe that culminated in Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial. Mr. Trump in flip vowed to combat “all the subpoenas.” Democrats then turned to submitting civil lawsuits in the courts, hoping to win cooperation.

The authorized battles consumed a lot of the ultimate years of the Trump administration, in some instances going all the best way to the Supreme Court. But they produced little usable testimony or paperwork.

The Jan. 6 committee has issued 19 subpoenas thus far, together with one introduced Wednesday looking for testimony and data from

Jeffrey Clark,

a former Justice Department official. Mr. Clark sought to use the company’s energy to assist Mr. Trump problem the 2020 election outcomes, in accordance to transcripts of interviews performed with then-acting Attorney General

Jeffrey Rosen

and different former Trump Justice Department officers and launched final week by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The transcripts describe Mr. Clark urging Mr. Rosen and different senior company officers to announce publicly that the Justice Department was investigating election fraud and proposed writing letters encouraging state legislatures in some swing states that voted for Mr. Biden to take into account appointing new slates of electors. A lawyer for Mr. Clark declined to remark Thursday.

The committee additionally has issued subpoenas to folks related with planning the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that starred Mr. Trump and preceded the riot on the Capitol.

Write to Lindsay Wise at lindsay.smart@wsj.com and Byron Tau at byron.tau@wsj.com

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