Liz Cheney pleads with House GOP members to hold Steve Bannon accountable
The House will vote Thursday to hold Trump’s former chief strategist accountable for not cooperating with the Jan. 6 investigation.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) made an impassioned plea to her GOP colleagues on Tuesday night to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress.
House GOP leaders have already recommended that caucus members vote “no” on the measure, CNN reported on Wednesday.
The U.S. House of Representatives is considering holding Bannon, former President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, in criminal contempt for refusing to testify about his involvement in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Cheney, who is one of two Republican committee members, made her comments at the Tuesday night hearing.
“I ask my colleagues, please consider the fundamental questions of right and wrong here,” Cheney said. “The American people must know what happened. They must know the truth. All of us who are elected officials must do our duty to prevent the dismantling of the rule of law, and to ensure nothing like that dark day in January ever happens again.”
Bannon has stubbornly refused to comply with an order from the committee to hand over his communications with Trump in the days leading up to the insurrection at the Capitol, as well as to testify about his own role in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 riots.
On Sept. 23, the committee sent subpoenas to Bannon and three other former senior Trump administration aides: Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff; Kash Patel, former chief of staff to Defense Secretary Chris Miller; and Dan Scavino, Trump’s former social media director.
The four Trump allies were supposed to testify before the committee last week, but have steadfastly refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Bannon’s lawyer has argued that his client does not have to comply with the committee’s orders, and has cited Trump’s “executive privilege” as president as a blanket legal protection.
But legal experts say such a privilege doesn’t exist because Trump is no longer president and Bannon was not in the administration at the time of the communications.
The committee’s vote came after it released a 26-page report laying out Bannon’s alleged role in the insurrection.
According to the report:
Mr. Bannon appears to have had multiple roles relevant to this investigation, including his role in constructing and participating in the “stop the steal” public relations effort that motivated the attack, his efforts to plan political and other activity in advance of January 6th, and his participation in the events of that day from a “war room” organized at the Willard InterContinental Washington D.C. Hotel (the “Willard Hotel”). Although he was a private citizen not employed by the White House at the time, he reportedly spoke with Mr. Trump directly regarding the plans for January 6th on at least one occasion. In short, Mr. Bannon appears to have played a multi-faceted role in the events of January 6th, and the American people are entitled to hear his first-hand testimony regarding his actions.
Democrats hold a majority in the House, so the vote to proceed with holding Bannon in contempt is likely to pass. But it remains unclear how many Republicans will vote for the measure.
Just two GOP House members are certain “yea” votes: Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), the other Republican on the Jan. 6 committee. They were the only House Republicans to vote for the creation of the committee back in June.
Even if the House votes to hold Bannon in criminal contempt, it’s unclear whether the Department of Justice would eventually prosecute him for it. There has not been a successful criminal contempt of Congress prosecution since President Ronald Reagan was in office.
During his confirmation hearing in February, Attorney General Merrick Garland said that going after offenders at the Jan. 6 insurrection would be one of his first priorities as the nation’s top prosecutor. Garland has called the attack “the most dangerous threat to our democracy.”
Trump sharply criticized Cheney and Kinzinger in a statement after the committee voted Tuesday night.
“The Unselect Committee is composed of absolute political hacks who want to destroy the Republican Party and are decimating America itself,” Trump said in a statement. “I am the only thing in their way.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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