Nov 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Steve Bannon indicted for contempt of Congress

Photo of Steve Bannon
Photo: Stephanie Keith via Getty Images

A federal grand jury on Friday indicted former Trump adviser Steven Bannon on two counts of contempt of Congress for his failure to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: It's the first such indictment to come out of the committee's investigation of the Capitol insurrection — and the first time the Justice Department has charged someone for contempt of Congress since 1983.

  • Bannon faces fines and possible jail time. Each count of contempt of Congress carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, per the DOJ.

Catch up quick: Bannon's lawyer told the panel in October that he would not cooperate, citing an assertion of executive privilege by former President Trump.

  • Democrats and many legal experts criticized the claim of privilege as dubious, as Bannon had been fired by Trump in 2017 and was a private citizen at the time of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
  • The committee moved quickly to hold Bannon in contempt, claiming in a report that statements he made publicly on Jan. 5 "suggest that he had some foreknowledge about extreme events that would occur the next day."
  • The House voted 229-202 on Oct. 21 to hold Bannon in contempt. Nine Republicans voted in favor of the resolution.

What they're saying: "Steve Bannon’s indictment should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can ignore the Select Committee or try to stonewall our investigation: no one is above the law," Jan. 6 select committee chair Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and vice chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in a statement.

  • "We will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need."

Between the lines: Democrats had feared that it could take months for the Justice Department to prosecute Bannon, stalling the investigation and giving incentive to other Trump associates not to cooperate.

  • News of the indictment came the same day that the committee threatened to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt, after he declined to appear for his scheduled testimony.
  • The committee has subpoenaed dozens of other former Trump aides. It's unclear how many will now choose to cooperate in light of the charges against Bannon.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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