Oct 22, 2021 - Podcasts

House holds Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress

The week in politics has featured the House voting to hold Steven Bannon in contempt of Congress, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s first testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, and President Biden trying to promote his economic agenda.

  • Plus, the scene in Georgia during the first week of the trial for Ahmaud Arbery’s murder.
  • And, a thrifting renaissance courtesy of Gen Z.

Guests: Axios' Glen Johnson, Erica Pandey and Emma Hurt; Ruby Arbery and Lynn Whitlfield in Brunswick, Georgia.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Alex Sugiura, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Michael Hanf, and David Toledo. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:


NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Friday October 22nd. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re watching today: the scene in Georgia during the first week of the trial for Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. Plus, a thrifting renaissance courtesy of Gen Z.

But first, today’s One Big Thing: the House holds Steve Bannon in Contempt of Congress.

It’s Friday, when we usually talk about the week in politics, which this week has included the House voting to hold Steven Bannon in contempt of Congress...Attorney General Merrick Garland’s first testimony before the Judicial Committee… and President Biden trying to promote his economic agenda to the American people.

Axios’ politics editor Glen Johnson’s got thoughts about all of it -- Hi, Glen!

NIALA: It's Friday when we usually talk about the week in politics, which this week has included the House of voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress, Attorney General Merrick Garland's first testimony before the judicial committee and President Biden, trying to promote his economic agenda to the American people.

Axios’ politics editor, Glen Johnson's got thoughts about all of it. Hey, Glen.

GLEN: Hi Niala.

NIALA: Let’s start with the Jan 6. select committee investigating the Capitol riot. Yesterday the House of Representatives voted to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena, refusing to give documents or testimony to the committee. So what now?

GLEN: He's making a claim of executive privilege. Donald Trump has urged everybody who's been subpoenaed to not cooperate. He's filed his own legal action, trying to prevent the turnover of records, but Joe Biden has said, there's no claim of privilege here. And the committee is not seeking Steve Bannon for anything related to the time that he worked for Donald Trump in office. He was on the air the day before the insurrection, telling people, advertising in a sense that there was a lot to be seen the next day. So it indicated that there was some foresight or for knowledge about what was going on. The House in and of itself has now taken the most serious action it can to try and enforce and compel testimony and to try and empower its subpoenas. So regardless of what happens from here, the house is on the record that people that don't comply with its actions will face some sort of sanction.

NIALA: Yesterday was a busy day in the House of Representatives with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifying for the first time. What was noteworthy about that?

GLEN: You had all this political energy in the Capitol and in the hearing rooms related to the January 6th insurrection. And then you had in walk this very sober, you know, would be Supreme Court Justice Merrick Garland and in the most evenhanded tone insists that he's not going to let the Department of Justice be politicized, and really didn't take the bait as people try to feel him out for how engaged he and his department would be in some of the political fights of the day.

NIALA: Let's turn to President Biden for a moment. He's been trying to sell his economic agenda this week with speeches in Scranton and D.C., and then a town hall in Baltimore last night. What's his message been?

GLEN: His message is that he finally has a message here. So much of what's been going on has been around the numbers. What's the top line figure for this whole bill, the players, whether are Kyrsten Sinema or Joe Manchin on board to the point that he has a bill the elements of which are very popular among American voters when you look at polls, but they haven't been talked about. And so he had a chance to speak directly to the American people and start to talk about the healthcare parts of it, the childcare parts of it, the things that will help women get back to work amid the coronavirus pandemic. Things that people say they want in terms of government support now, but haven't really been discussed to the degree to which this bill is going to cost $3.5 trillion or $2.2 trillion or $1.5 trillion. That's really overshadowed the contents of the legislation.

NIALA: Glen Johnson is an Axios’ politics editor. Thanks Glen.

GLEN: You’re welcome.

NIALA: In 15 seconds: outside the Georgia courthouse where three men are on trial for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

[ad break]

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

It's been almost two years since Ahmaud Arbery was killed while out jogging in Brunswick, Georgia.

RUBY ARBERY: The way we lost him, everything changed. Our life would never be the same. Even if we get justice, it’s not going to ever be the same.

NIALA: That's Ruby Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery's aunt. She spoke with Axios Atlanta reporter Emma Hurt outside the Glynn County courthouse during the first week of the state trial of the three white men accused of murdering the 25-year-old Black man.

Emma says the small town of Brunswick, Georgia is full of people who have come from all over the country to be here for this first week.

EMMA HURT: They're staying in hotels around the area. There's a tent with local clergy who are here, who are just taking turns sitting here in case anybody needs prayer.

The trial is currently set to go till November 19th, but it's taking a really long time to find potential jurors to qualify because this is a small community. So we'll see whether that trial deadline remains relevant.

NIALA: Pool reports from inside the courtroom yesterday noted that the defendants' lawyers are worried the signs, banners and rallies in front of the courthouse could influence potential jurors as they travel in and out of the building.

1,000 potential jurors were summoned for this trial and many are expecting it will take weeks to find an impartial jury in the small coastal Georgia city.

For now, Ruby and her family aren't alone - One group, the Good Trouble Voting Rights Institute, organized buses, hotel rooms and meals for about a hundred people from around the country to come to Georgia.

Lynn Whitfield is a Florida attorney and the director of the organizing group. She says after watching the trial over the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, she's more optimistic than others about seating a jury in Brunswick.

LYNN WHITFIELD: That George Floyd video was everywhere all the time. So if they were able to find an impartial jury there, I think they'll find one here in Brunswick.

NIALA: No matter how long it takes and who sticks around, Ruby says she is planning to be at the courthouse every day of the trial.

RUBY: I know justice is going to be served. I don't doubt that at all.

NIALA: Thanks to Axios Atlanta reporter Emma Hurt.

Gen Z shoppers are driving a new trend towards thrifting, as they buy more of their clothes vintage and used instead of new. So much so that Axios’ Erica Pandey reports, the secondhand market is growing at 11 times the rate of the broader retail clothing industry.

Erica, this seems like a substantial trend.

ERICA PANDEY: That's right, Niala, the secondhand market is growing quite fast. It was at 36 billion in 2021. It's projected to reach 77 billion by 2025, according to a report from the retail analytics firm GlobalData and the online thrift store ThredUp. But what's really interesting is that it's growing at a rate 11 times faster than the broader clothing sector. And that's because Gen Z has really been taken by thrifting. It's becoming a social activity.

Young people are going together to thrift stores for the thrill of the hunt to find something cool, find something eclectic, and it's become a social media activity. They're posting about it on Instagram, on TikTok. They're even thrifting for more than just themselves and selling what they're finding on secondhand sale platforms. This is a really awesome trend because the apparel and footwear sector account for 10% of climate change. So a new interest in thrifting and buying secondhand is really great for our planet.

NIALA: Erica Pandey is a business reporter for Axios.

Before we go, the Axios COVID map has some good news heading into your weekend: the U.S. is averaging about 79,000 new cases each day. That’s still far too many of course but it’s down 22% over the last two weeks. And of course the hope is that when vaccines for kids ages 5-11 get approved -- likely in the coming weeks -- things will start to fall even more. But as our own Sam Baker has told us: with lots of indoor holiday gatherings on the horizon, it’s hard to say what winter will have in store. So keep being safe out there.

That’s it for us this week!

Axios Today is brought to you by Axios and Pushkin Industries.

We’re produced by Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, David Toledo, and Lydia McMullen-Laird. Our sound engineers are Alex Sugiura and Michael Hanf. Dan Bobkoff is our Executive Producer. Sara Kehaulani Goo is our Editor In Chief. And special thanks to Axios co-founder Mike Allen.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and have the best weekend.

Go deeper