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NEWS & ANALYSIS

Small Crime & Bad Demeanor: Jan. 6 Inquisition Threatens Bannon With Criminal Charge Over Subpoena


The chairman of the January 6 committee set a vote next week to recommend that former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon face criminal contempt charges for refusing to comply with a subpoena. 

The move came after Bannon informed the panel he would not comply with the subpoena in accordance with direction from Trump, who told former aides and advisers they should not entertain the inquiry, the New York Times 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,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the committee, said in a statement. “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.” 

Under federal law, anyone summoned as a congressional witness who refuses to comply may face a misdemeanor charge with a fine of up to $100,000 and up to a year in jail. 

The committee, which is democrat-controlled, is expected to agree to pursue penalties on Tuesday, sending the citation to the full House. Indeed, democrats almost positively have the votes to approve it. It would then be sent to the Justice Department. 

Robert J. Costello, a lawyer for Bannon, said in a letter to the committee on Wednesday that his client would not produce documents or testimony “until such time as you reach an agreement with President Trump” on claims of executive privilege “or receive a court ruling.”