A House committee voted to recommend a contempt of Congress charge against former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon, referring the matter to the full House for a vote, which could happen as soon as Thursday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol voted Tuesday to hold Steve Bannon, a former top adviser to former President Donald Trump, in contempt for defying a subpoena to testify.
The committee adopted a contempt report outlining its efforts to get Bannon to comply with the subpoena, setting up a full House vote which could happen as soon as Thursday.
Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., scheduled the vote last week after Bannon ignored deadlines to produce documents related to his discussions with Trump in the days before the violent insurrection in which radical Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as lawmakers were voting to certify Joe Biden's election victory.
Thompson on Tuesday night said it brought him "no joy" to call the meeting but asserted Bannon "has information relevant to our probe."
"We'll use the tools at our disposal to get that information," he said. "I expect that the House will quickly adopt this referral through the Justice Department and that the U.S. Attorney will do his duty and prosecute Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress."
House approval would send the contempt recommendation to the Justice Department, which would have full, independent authority to decide whether to enforce the prosecution.
Earlier this month, Trump instructed a group of former aides including Bannon, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Daniel Scavino and former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel to defy subpoenas from the committee, citing executive privilege.
The former aide was said to be present at a gathering on Jan. 5 to persuade lawmakers to block the certification, where he was quoted as saying, "all hell is going to break loose tomorrow." There are also reports that Bannon spoke with Trump on Dec. 30 and urged him to focus on Jan. 6.
Bannon's attorney, Robert Costello, has instructed him to ''invoke any immunities and privileges he may have from compelled testimony" about Jan. 6, including executive privilege, and said Bannon was "legally unable to comply," relying on the instructions of Trump to not disclose privileged information, according to the House resolution.
That defense was rejected by Thompson.
"Mr. Bannon has declined to cooperate with the select committee and is instead hiding behind the former president's insufficient, blanket and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke," Thompson said in a statement Thursday.
"We reject his position entirely. The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt."
The vote also comes a day after Trump's lawyers cited executive privilege in a lawsuit filed against the committee and the National Archives that's intended to block public release of White House materials related to the U.S. Capitol attack.
The suit calls the House investigation "a vexatious, illegal fishing expedition" and asks federal courts to declare the committee's entire request to be invalid, dismissing the effort as "a political ploy" orchestrated by Biden to "accommodate his partisan allies."
Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police wipes away tears Tuesday as he testifies before members of the Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Pool Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo