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US lawmakers accuse Steve Bannon of contempt

(CNN) – The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday on the proclamation of Steve Bannon, one of former President Donald Trump’s closest allies, in criminal contempt for Congress after he a challenge a the quote Commission of Inquiry into the January 6 rebellion at the Capitol.

The action represents a significant escalation in how much they are willing to go to reprimand people who refuse to cooperate during the investigation into the violent attack that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump.

A full House vote to indict Bannon in criminal contempt before Congress will result in a referral to the Justice Department, which will have to decide whether to sue him.

This work in the plenary session of the Chamber occurs after the Commission toOfficially substantiates Bannon’s plea of ​​contempt On Tuesday evening, a vote in the House of Representatives, which will serve as a warning to potential witnesses about the consequences of not cooperating with the investigation, was announced.

Steve Bannon, one of former President Donald Trump’s closest allies.

On Tuesday evening, commission members criticized Bannon for refusing to cooperate with the commission’s investigation, warning that he was “isolated” in doing so as other witnesses work with the commission.

We want Bannon to respond.

“Our goal is simple: We want Mr. Bannon to answer our questions. We want him to turn over all documents in his possession that are relevant to the commission’s investigation,” the president, Democratic Representative Benny Thompson of Mississippi, said in his letter. Opening speech.

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“Mr. Bannon appears to have had considerable prior knowledge of the January 6 plans and likely played an important role in formulating those plans,” Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, one of two Republican members of the committee, said during the meeting.

“The American people are entitled to direct testimony from Mr. Bannon about all these relevant facts,” he said.

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Bannon has already argued this Cannot cooperate with the committee Until the issues of executive privilege enjoyed by the President of the United States are resolved by the courts.

lawyer He said that “Executive privilege belongs to President Trump” and “we must accept his directives and respect his protest of executive privilege.”

“The obvious fact here is that Mr. Bannon has no legal right to disregard the subpoena,” Cheney said on Tuesday.

Next steps after voting

After the full vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to endorse the report for the District of Columbia attorney. By law, this testimony requires a US attorney to “present the matter to a grand jury for action,” but the Department of Justice will also make its own decisions to prosecute.

“I hope the House will swiftly approve this referral to the Department of Justice and that the attorney general will do his part and prosecute Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt for Congress,” Thompson said Tuesday.

The US Attorney’s office in Washington issued a statement Thursday, saying the Justice Department would “evaluate the matter based on the facts and the law.”

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“If the House approves a criminal contempt citation, the Department of Justice, as with all criminal referrals, will evaluate the matter based on facts and law, consistent with federal prosecutorial principles,” he said. Bill Miller, spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Attorney General Merrick Garland is expected to appear as a witness at a House hearing Thursday morning focused on oversight of the Department of Justice.

Anyone found responsible for contempt of Congress would be guilty of a crime that could be punished with a fine and imprisonment from one to 12 months. But this process is rarely invoked and rarely leads to imprisonment.

A process that may take years

Charging Bannon with criminal contempt through trial could take years, and historically, criminal contempt cases have been thwarted by appeal and acquittal.

As a result, the Chamber’s search for criminal charges may be more about setting Bannon up an example and sending a message to other potential witnesses.

“I want our witnesses to understand something very clearly,” Thompson said on Tuesday. “If they’re thinking of following the path that Mr. Bannon has taken, they know that’s what they’re going to face.”

“The process we started tonight is dangerous. It rarely happens and we’d rather avoid it altogether, but it’s not limited to Steve Bannon alone. If other witnesses on this panel challenge this commission, and if they don’t cooperate, we’ll go back to this” room with a new report in the names of anyone wrongly believed to be above the law “.

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