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Jan 6. Panel Sets Bannon Contempt Vote 10/15 06:11

    A congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has 
moved aggressively against close Trump adviser Steve Bannon, swiftly scheduling 
a vote to recommend criminal contempt charges against the former White House 
aide after he defied a subpoena.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- A congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 
Capitol insurrection has moved aggressively against close Trump adviser Steve 
Bannon, swiftly scheduling a vote to recommend criminal contempt charges 
against the former White House aide after he defied a subpoena.

   The chairman of the special committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said 
the panel will vote Tuesday to recommend charges against Bannon, an adviser to 
Donald Trump for years who was in touch with the president ahead of the most 
serious assault on Congress in two centuries.

   "The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas," Thompson 
said in a statement Thursday. Bannon, he said, is "hiding behind the former 
president's insufficient, blanket and vague statements regarding privileges he 
has purported to invoke. We reject his position entirely."

   If approved by the Democratic-majority committee, the recommendation of 
criminal charges would go to the full House. Approval there would send them to 
the Justice Department, which has final say on prosecution.

   The showdown with Bannon is just one facet of a broad and escalating 
congressional inquiry, with 19 subpoenas issued so far and thousands of pages 
of documents flowing to the committee and its staff. Challenging Bannon's 
defiance is a crucial step for the panel, whose members are vowing to restore 
the force of congressional subpoenas after they were routinely flouted during 
Trump's time in office.

   The committee had scheduled a Thursday deposition with Bannon, but his 
lawyer said that Trump had directed him not to comply, citing information that 
was potentially protected by executive privileges afforded to a president. 
Bannon, who was not a White House staffer on Jan. 6, also failed to provide 
documents to the panel by a deadline last week.

   Still, the committee could end up stymied again after years of Trump 
administration officials refusing to cooperate with Congress. The longtime 
Trump adviser similarly defied a subpoena during a GOP-led investigation into 
Trump's Russia ties in 2018, but the House did not move to hold him into 
contempt.

   Even though President Joe Biden has been supportive of the committee's work, 
it is uncertain whether the Justice Department would choose to prosecute the 
criminal contempt charges against Bannon or any other witnesses who might defy 
the panel. Even if it the department does prosecute, the process could take 
months, if not years. And such contempt cases are notoriously difficult to win.

   Members of the committee are pressuring the department to take their side.

   House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who also sits on the Jan. 
6 panel, said he expects the Justice Department to prosecute the cases.

   "The last four years have given people like Steve Bannon the impression 
they're above the law," Schiff said during an interview for C-SPAN's Book TV 
that airs next weekend. "But they're going to find out otherwise."

   Schiff said efforts to hold Bannon and others in contempt during the Russia 
investigation were blocked by Republicans and the Trump administration's 
Department of Justice.

   "But now we have Merrick Garland, we have an independent Justice Department, 
we have an attorney general who believes in the rule of law -- and so this is 
why I have confidence that we will get the answers," Schiff said.

   While Bannon has outright defied the Jan. 6 committee, other Trump aides who 
have been subpoenaed appear to be negotiating. A deposition by a second witness 
that had been scheduled for Thursday, former Defense Department official 
Kashyap Patel, was delayed, but Patel is still engaging with the panel, a 
committee aide said. The aide requested anonymity to discuss the confidential 
talks.

   Two other men who worked for Trump -- former White House chief of staff Mark 
Meadows and longtime Trump social media director Dan Scavino -- were scheduled 
for depositions Friday, but they have both been pushed back as well. Meadows, 
like Patel, has been given a "short postponement" as he is also engaging with 
the panel, the aide said, and Scavino's deposition has been rescheduled because 
there were delays in serving his subpoena.

   It is unclear to what extent Trump has tried to influence his aides, beyond 
his lawyers' attempts to assert executive privilege. In a statement Thursday, 
the former president said the members of the committee should "hold themselves 
in criminal contempt" and that "the people are not going to stand for it!"

   Other witnesses are cooperating, including some who organized or staffed the 
Trump rally on the Ellipse behind the White House that preceded the riot. The 
committee subpoenaed 11 rally organizers and gave them a Wednesday deadline to 
turn over documents and records. They have also been asked to appear at 
scheduled depositions.

   Among those complying was Lyndon Brentnall, whose firm was hired to provide 
Ellipse event security that day, and two longtime Trump campaign and White 
House staffers, Megan Powers and Hannah Salem. It is uncertain whether any of 
the others subpoenaed have complied.

   Many of the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 marched up the 
National Mall after attending at least part of Trump's rally, where he repeated 
his meritless claims of election fraud and implored the crowd to "fight like 
hell." Dozens of police officers were injured as the Trump supporters 
overwhelmed them and broke through windows and doors to interrupt the 
certification of Biden's victory.

   The rioters repeated Trump's claims of widespread fraud as they marched 
through the Capitol, even though the results of the election were confirmed by 
state officials and upheld by courts. Trump's attorney general, William Barr, 
had said the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud that 
could have overturned the results.

   The panel has also issued a subpoena to a former Justice Department lawyer 
who positioned himself as Trump's ally and aided the Republican president's 
efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 election.

   The demands for documents and testimony from that lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, 
announced Wednesday, reflect the committee's efforts to probe not only the 
insurrection but also the tumult that roiled the Justice Department in the 
weeks leading up to it as Trump and his allies leaned on government lawyers to 
advance his election claims.

   Clark, an assistant attorney general in the Trump administration, has 
emerged as a pivotal character. A Senate committee report issued last week 
showed that he championed Trump's efforts to undo the election results and 
clashed as a result with department superiors who resisted the pressure, 
culminating in a dramatic White House meeting at which Trump ruminated about 
elevating Clark to attorney general.

 
 
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