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Steve Bannon exits Manhattan Federal Court on Aug. 20, 2020, in New York City. Photo: John Lamparski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Justice Department's contempt of Congress charges against Steve Bannon send a message not only to other witnesses called by the Jan. 6 inquest but to countless other people who face congressional subpoenas.

Driving the news: Think pharmaceutical execs, NFL bosses, baby food manufacturers, social media moguls — you name it.

  • That message is: It's a new day for Congress' investigative muscle.

Lawmakers have sent a spate of referrals for prosecution to the Justice Department in recent years, and they've fallen on deaf ears.

  • This case signals that congressional subpoenas matter, and that people under subpoenas take big risks when they defy them.

Reality check: Bannon was uniquely defiant of Congress. According to the indictment, he didn't even figure out what documents he has that the committee might want — a typical step, even for people who have no intention of turning over those documents.

  • Unlike ex-DOJer Jeff Clark — another top committee target — he didn't even show up for his deposition. Those moves could have made it a little trickier for Justice to build a case against him. 

What we're watching: It's not clear what this indictment means for former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, who's also been subpoenaed.

  • First, Trump has a much stronger executive privilege claim regarding him than Bannon — at least, comparatively speaking.
  • Second, Meadows and his lawyer engaged with the committee in a way that Bannon didn't. But Meadows' lawyer has signaled he won't play ball, and will rather wait for the conclusion of Trump's lawsuit against the National Archives and the committee — which could take years. The committee, meanwhile, is in a hurry.

What's next: Bannon is expected to turn himself in on Monday for arraignment. And if his case goes to trial, it could be quite a scene.

  • The Justice Department could call members of Congress or Hill staff as witnesses. And Lord knows who Bannon would call.

Asked for comment, Bannon pointed Swan to this tweet by his daughter:

Via Twitter

Go deeper

Meadows cooperating with House Jan. 6 select committee

Mark Meadows. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is cooperating with the House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, the panel said Tuesday.

Driving the news: Meadows, who failed to appear before the panel earlier this month, is believed to have insight into former President Trump's role in efforts to stop the certification of President Biden's election win.

Mark Meadows will stop cooperating with Jan. 6 panel

Photo: Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will no longer cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, the committee said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Meadows, who failed to appear before the panel last month, is believed to have insight into former President Trump's role in efforts to stop the certification of President Biden's election win.

Roger Stone won't cooperate with Jan. 6 panel

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone speaking in front of the Supreme Court on Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone won't cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and will invoke the Fifth Amendment right not to testify, his attorney said Tuesday evening.

Why it matters: The announcement, first reported by ABC News, came hours after former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he wouldn't cooperate with the probe.