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House January 6 committee unanimously votes to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol voted unanimously Tuesday night to hold former President Trump’s adviser Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for defying a subpoena to appear and produce records. 

“We believe Mr. Bannon has information relevant to our probe, and we’ll use the tools at our disposal to get that information,” Chairman Bennie Thompson said ahead of the vote. “I expect that the House will quickly adopt this referral to the Justice Department and that the U.S. Attorney will do his duty and prosecute Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress.”

Bannon was ordered to appear before the committee last week, but his attorney said he was following the direction of the former president’s legal team to not provide documents or testify. The committee recommended Monday night that he be held in criminal contempt. All Democrats on the committee and the two Republicans on the committee, Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, voted in favor of holding Bannon in criminal contempt. 

Thompson added that “there isn’t a different set of rules for Mr. Bannon. He knows this. He knows there are consequences for outright defiance. And he’s chosen the path toward criminal contempt by taking this position.”

Cheney also spoke before the vote, arguing that the executive privilege arguments raised by former President Trump and Bannon “appear to reveal one thing…they suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6. And we will get to the bottom of that.”

She also at one point directly addressed her Republican colleagues. 

“Almost all of you know in your hearts that what happened on January 6 was profoundly wrong,” Cheney said. “You know that there is no evidence of widespread election fraud sufficient to overturn the election; you know that the Dominion voting machines were not corrupted by a foreign power. You know those claims are false.”

She continued, “Yet President Trump repeats them almost daily. He has now urged Republicans not to vote in the 2022 and 2024 elections. This is a prescription for national self-destruction.”

Congress Budget
People walk by the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. 

Andrew Harnik / AP


The measure now goes to the Democrat-controlled House. Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that the full House would take it up for a vote on Thursday. If a majority of the House finds him criminal contempt, then the House will refer the case to the Justice Department for prosecution.

In a letter obtained by CBS News, Bannon’s attorney said last week that he is not acting in “defiance” of the subpoena, and pointed to instructions from Mr. Trump’s attorney. “President Trump’s counsel stated that they were invoking executive and other privileges and therefore directed us not to produce documents or give testimony that might reveal information President Trump’s counsel seeks to legally protect,” his lawyer said.  

President Biden last week rejected Mr. Trump’s assertion of executive privilege for the documents requested by the committee, and the White House said it would give the panel access to federal records connected to the Trump White House and the January 6 insurrection.   

On Monday, Mr. Trump’s attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court against the committee, committee chair Bennie Thompson, the National Archives and David Ferriero, the director of the National Archives, in an effort to block the release of documents related to his actions on January 6.

Mr. Trump spoke at Stop the Steal rally on January 6 ahead of Congress’ convening to count the electoral votes, a largely ceremonial final step affirming Mr. Biden’s victory. Mr. Trump encouraged his supporters to “walk over” to the Capitol to protest the results of the election. 

Chaos erupted at the Capitol a few hours later as thousands of Mr. Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol, breaking windows and ransacking the building. Lawmakers, including former Vice President Mike Pence, fled the floor amid the riot, which led to the deaths of five people and the arrests of hundreds more. Mr. Trump was impeached by the House one week later for inciting the riot but was later acquitted by the Senate

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created the House select committee earlier this year to “establish the truth” of what happened that day. Despite the initial attempts to make it a bipartisan committee, Kinzinger and Cheney, two of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump, are the only two Republicans on the nine-person committee.

In addition to Bannon, the committee has subpoenaed the organizers of the Stop the Steal rally, as well as former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, communications director Dan Scavino and Pentagon chief of staff Kashyap Patel. 

Zak Hudak contributed reporting.

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