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News > World

US House Refers Bannon to the Justice for Criminal Prosecution

  • Steve Bannon.

    Steve Bannon. | Photo: Twitter/ @En_Pelotas

Published 22 October 2021

Donald Trump's former advisor is accused of "Contempt of Congress." This a crime can result in the person convicted being fined and sentenced to between one and 12 months in jail.

On Thursday, the U.S. House voted to refer Steve Bannon, the adviser to former President Donald Trump, to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution, accusing him of contempt of Congress over his refusal to cooperate with the investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.


House Panel Votes To Hold Trump's Adviser In Criminal Contempt

The resolution was adopted in a largely party-line vote of 229-202, with only nine Republicans joining all Democrats in approving it. It came two days after the House special committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot unanimously voted to hold Bannon, who defied the committee's subpoena and refused to appear for a deposition, in contempt of Congress.

In the report released Monday recommending that the House hold Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress, the special committee cited Bannon's remarks made on his radio show on Jan. 5 - when he said "all hell is going to break loose tomorrow" -- as evidence that "he had some foreknowledge about extreme events that would occur the next day."

House Republican leadership sent out a statement in the lead-up to Thursday's vote rallying against the contempt resolution, saying Congress has no authority to conduct the Jan. 6 investigation for a legislative purpose, nor does its oversight authority include law enforcement powers.

All eyes are now turning to Attorney General Merrick Garland, who testified Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee that the Justice Department would review any referral. However, he refused to give any hint on the agency's decision on prosecution.

Bannon told the special committee through his attorney that he won't cooperate with the investigators until the dispute is settled about Trump's invocation of executive privilege to block certain documents sought by the committee. The select committee has requested a trove of documents and communications within the White House concerning what happened on Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump's supporters raided the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Contempt of Congress is a crime that can result in the person convicted being fined and sentenced to between one and 12 months in jail, but precedents of such litigations are very rare and proven notoriously difficult to succeed. Historically, contempt of Congress prosecutions oftentimes ended up being appealed or concluded with the defendant being acquitted. The last time such a case took place was in 1983 against an official in the Ronald Reagan administration.

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