Steve Bannon, the former adviser to President Donald Trump, was indicted Friday on charges of contempt of Congress, after he failed to comply with a subpoena issued by a committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots.
Bannon, a former film producer and current podcast host, has claimed through his attorney that he has executive privilege even though he left the White House in August 2017, well before the attack on the Capitol this year.
The Grand Jury indictment cites Bannon’s failure to appear and produce documents to the committee on October 7 and to appear for a deposition on October 14. Bannon accepted service of the subpoena through his attorney on September 24.
According to the indictment, Bannon’s attorneys responded by writing to the committee that he “would not comply with the subpoena because former President Donald J. Trump had claimed that the subpoena sought records and testimony potentially protected by executive and other privileges and had instructed Bannon, ‘to the fullest extent permitted by law,’ to ‘(a) where appropriate, invoke any immunities and privileges he may have from compelled testimony in response to the Subpoena; (b) not produce any documents concerning privileged material in response to the Subpoena; and (c) not provide any testimony concerning privileged material in response to the Subpoena.'”
Bannon faces two charges of contempt, one having to do with not appearing before the committee and another for failure to produce documents. If convicted, the misdemeanor penalty a fine of up to $1,000 and not less than $100, and up to 12 months in jail and not less than one month.
The House voted on October 21 to hold Bannon in contempt, referring the matter to the Justice Department.
On his podcast on January 5, Bannon predicted that the next day would be “game day. So strap in. Let’s get ready.”
“All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” he said.
Also today, Mark Meadows, who was Trump’s chief of staff on January 6, failed to appear for a deposition before the committee.
“Mr. Meadows remains under the instructions of former President Trump to respect longstanding principles of executive privilege,” Meadows’ attorney said, per NBC News. “It now appears the courts will have to resolve this conflict.”
On Thursday, an appellate panel granted Trump’s request to put on a pause on the release of records that the committee has subpoenaed, as the former president claims that he is covered by executive privilege.
Bannon was a documentary filmmaker, radio host and executive chair of Breitbart News when Trump tapped him in August 2016 to serve as CEO of his presidential campaign. After Trump won the election, Bannon joined the administration as his chief strategist. He departed the White House in August of that year, shortly after Trump named a new chief of staff, John Kelly.
Bannon’s podcast, War Room, has routinely advanced debunked claims that the election was stolen from Trump. Rick Hasen, professor of law and political science and co-director of the Fair Elections and Free Speech Center at the University of California, Irvine, told CNN recently, “He’s creating an army of duped people who will go into positions helping to run elections with the false understanding that the 2020 election was stolen.”
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