The January 6th House select committee is reportedly planning to refer former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. The referral comes after Bannon bucked a subpoena from the committee investigating the events surrounding the Capitol riot last week.
In Bannon’s decision to buck the subpoena he cited a yet-to-be-filed suit from former President Trump who plans to claim executive privilege bars the committee from seeking testimony from Trump and former administration officials.
The Hill reports:
“Mr. Bannon has declined to cooperate with the Select Committee and is instead hiding behind the former President’s insufficient, blanket, and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke. We reject his position entirely. The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt. I’ve notified the Select Committee that we will convene for a business meeting Tuesday evening to vote on adopting a contempt report,” Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement.
“The Select Committee will use every tool at its disposal to get the information it seeks, and witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed.”
After a House vote, the referral decision will be left to the Justice Department which will determine how aggressively it will go after Bannon.
The decision to act would likely be made by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., and lawyers at the highest levels of the main Justice Department.
Lawyers would need to determine if there’s probable cause — a likely determination given that experts say Bannon’s and Trump’s executive privilege claims have little merit — and whether the case can be proved in court. The department could take into consideration the gravity of the situation, in that officials would be charging an aide to a former president of the opposite party.
However, if the Justice Department opts not to pursue criminal charges against Bannon the Hosue committee is also able to file its own civil suit in a move that could also result in jail time for the former Trump adviser.