Thursday, December 2, 2021

US House of Representatives to decide whether to treat Bannon with contempt

The US House of Representatives is due to vote Thursday on charges of contempt of Steve Bannon, one of former President Donald Trump’s longtime advisers, to refuse to cooperate with the Congressional investigation of the January 6 uprising at the US Capitol.

The Democratic Majority House of Representatives is expected to approve this contempt measure, and a majority of House Republicans are expected to vote against it.

If approved, the quote will be sent to the federal attorney in Washington for submission to a grand jury for a possible indictment against Bannon. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to one year in prison, but such contempt for congressional charges is unusual and rarely results in jail time.

The Uprising Investigation Committee voted on Tuesday to indict contempt of court, saying it was the only witness to completely reject their call to testify. The committee says Bannon spoke to Trump ahead of the riots and supported the Jan. 6 protests.

The Democratic-controlled group is investigating how and why hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, as lawmakers certified Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump in last year’s presidential election.

In the final days of his presidency, Trump urged his supporters at a White House rally to “fight with all their might” to block confirmation of Biden’s victory. Shortly thereafter, more than 800 Trump supporters stormed into the Capitol, some of them vandalizing the building and fighting the police. More than 600 people have been charged with a number of crimes. The incident killed five people.

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Trump tried to obstruct the committee’s investigation of what provoked the riots and his role in them. He called on Bannon and other former aides called by the committee to go to court to deny his requests, demanding executive privileges over White House documents, even though he left office on January 20. Bannon was Trump’s top White House strategist for the first seven months of 2017 and has remained one of his most vocal supporters.

Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday claiming the committee made an illegal, unfounded and overly broad request for his White House entries.

Biden’s White House argued that Trump had no legal entitlement to privileges.

“The actions of the former president represent a unique – and existential – threat to our democracy that cannot be hidden,” said spokesman Michael Gwynne. “Constitutional protection of executive privileges should not be used to protect information that reflects overt and obvious attempts to undermine the Constitution itself.”

Senate Republicans have blocked the creation of the Independent Commission to Investigate Mayhem, a group modeled after the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

In response, the House, controlled by Democrats, created a nine-member commission of inquiry, which included two Republican MPs who openly criticized Trump.

In July, the group heard vivid and detailed reports from four police officers who confronted rioters inside the Capitol on January 6, but have not heard any more public testimony since then.

Some of the information for this report came from the Associated Press.

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