The U.S. Department of Justice indicted Steve Bannon, a former advisor to former President Donald Trump, on two counts of contempt of Congress for not complying with a subpoena issued by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.
The Department of Justice said the two charges stem from Bannon’s failure to appear for in-person testimony before the committee as well as his refusal to turn over documents requested by the committee.
The Democrat-led House committee has been requesting that Trump associates turn over documents and provide testimony about what, if any, role they played in disputing the results of the 2020 election and the crowds of people who entered the U.S. Capitol on January 6 as Congress was certifying the results.
The charges against Bannon come after the committee voted, in October, to hold him in contempt for failing to comply with the subpoenas they issued him on September 23, 2021.
As he announced the charges, President Joe Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law. Today’s charges reflect the department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.”
The September 23 subpoenas stated the committee’s belief that Bannon had information relevant to understanding events related to January 6. Bannon served as Chief Strategist and Counselor to then-President Donald Trump before leaving the White House in 2017. He has been a private citizen since departing from the administration in 2017.
Trump has argued to exert executive privilege over some of the documents requested by the committee. In explaining his client’s decision, a lawyer for Bannon said he would not testify or provide documents until an agreement is reached between the committee and Trump on executive privilege, or a court gives guidance on the situation.
As the Associated Press reported on Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit temporarily blocked the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House committee. The issue will again go before the court, with arguments over Trump’s executive privilege claims set to begin on November 30.
Bannon faces a minimum 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail for each contempt count, as well as a fine of between $100 to $1,000.