Steve Bannon indicted for defying Jan. 6 committee investigation

“Since my first day in office, I have promised the Department of Justice that together we will show the American people through word and deed that the Department adheres to the rule of law, follows facts and the law, and pursues equal justice under the law . “he said.” Today’s fees reflect the division’s unwavering commitment to these principles. “

Bannon and his spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The indictment is remarkably quick work by the Justice Department. Those familiar with the process of referring to Congress told POLITICO that Justice Department attorneys often take months to make law enforcement decisions. However, it is also a risky move for prosecutors as disregard for the Congressional charge is seldom brought forward and almost never results in conviction.

But Bannon’s case was a particularly extreme example of defiance: he refused to appear before investigators under subpoena, even to assert other privileges. And investigators consider him a key witness to the events that immediately preceded the January 6 attack.

The case is likely to raise some complicated questions about executive privilege, especially for outside consultants. Bannon has indicated through his attorney that he would cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee if requested by a court, but the panel viewed this offer as a tactic that could bind his potential testimony for months or years.

Some Democratic Congressmen had grown impatient with the Department of Justice’s obstruction and obstruction by witnesses, but Garland had largely withdrawn from lawmakers’ questions about enforcing subpoenas and insisted on the independence of the department.

“Steve Bannon’s indictment should send a clear message to anyone who believes they can ignore the special committee or try to block our investigation: Nobody is above the law. We will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need, “Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) And Vice-Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) Said in a statement Friday .

Each of the two Counts Bannon met on Friday is sentenced to up to one year in prison and a minimum of one month in prison. One charge relates to Bannon’s failure to testify and the other to his refusal to produce documents in response to the committee’s subpoena.

Bannon is expected to surrender to law enforcement on Monday, with an initial trial of the charges in the afternoon, according to a source familiar with the situation. His case was assigned to Trump-appointed Judge Carl Nichols.

Several key Republicans in the House of Representatives were quick to close around Bannon, with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) suggesting that Republicans would use the precedent set in his case to seek a testimony of Congress from senior Biden advisors they take the house. And Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), A frequent guest on Bannon’s podcast, simply tweeted “StandWithBannon”.

The committee had an interest in Bannon’s involvement in a DC “war room” in connection with attempts to overturn the January 6 election at the Willard Hotel. The panel on Monday summoned several other campaign figures and Trump allies associated with the war room.

Filing a criminal complaint for disregarding the committee is also an important signal for other witnesses standing on the fence to testify. Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows refused to appear on Friday despite being summoned. The division’s move signals that he and others could realistically be prosecuted for heavily armed the investigation.

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The panel members found Meadows’ testimony to be critical to their investigation. He stood alongside former President Donald Trump during his months of trying to overturn the 2020 election results. He was also with Trump on January 6, when violent supporters stormed the Capitol, obstructing Congress efforts to confirm Trump’s loss, and acted as a key mediator with members of Congress who voted against confirming election results. Additionally, in the weeks following Trump’s defeat, Meadows was involved in efforts to lean on state and local officials.

President Joe Biden directly endorsed Thompson’s efforts Thursday, posting a letter through the White House attorney surrendering any potential claims to privileged privileges Meadows might have.

But Meadows rejected that idea. His attorney, George Terwilliger, sharply criticized Biden for refusing to support Meadows’ claim to immunity, calling him “the first President to make no effort to protect President’s communications from coerced testimony.”

Terwilliger said instead that Meadows dated Trump, who argued that he had the right to assert privileges over his administration’s records. This argument has minimal legal support and is currently the subject of litigation between Trump, the Jan. 6 Committee, and the National Archives, which hold White House records.

It’s not Bannon’s first contact with the law. Last August, he was charged by a grand jury in Manhattan on fraud allegations related to a group raising private funds to support Trump’s demand for an enlarged, reinforced wall along the US-Mexico border.

Bannon pleaded not guilty to those charges and was awaiting trial when Trump granted him a pardon in January that effectively ended the case against his former White House aide. Trump has not granted a pardon to the three other men charged in this case, who are expected to be tried later this year.

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