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House votes for Trump ally Steve Bannon to despise Congress for defying subpoena in January 6 attack

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WASHINGTON

The House voted Thursday to detain Steve Bannon, a longtime ally and aide to former President Donald Trump, for contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the commission of inquiry into the January 6 violent insurgency in Capitol.

In a rare display of bipartisanship in the House, Democratic committee chairman, Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson, led the debate with Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, one of two Republicans on the panel. Still, the vote was 229-202 with all but nine GOP lawmakers voting saying no.

The House vote sends the case back to the U.S. prosecutor’s office in Washington, where it will now be up to prosecutors in that office to decide whether to present the case to a grand jury for possible criminal charges. It is still not certain whether they will pursue the case. Attorney General Merrick Garland would only say in a House hearing on Thursday that they plan to make a decision consistent with the principles of the prosecution.

The partisan split over Bannons’ subpoena and the committee investigation in general is emblematic of the heightened tensions still raging in Congress nine months after the attack on Capitol Hill.

Democrats pledged to thoroughly investigate the assault in which hundreds of Trump supporters forced their way past police, injured dozens of officers and interrupted the electoral count certifying the president’s victory Joe Bidens in November. Lawmakers on the panel said they would act quickly and forcefully to punish anyone who did not cooperate with the investigation.

We will not allow anyone to derail our work because our work is too important, Thompson said ahead of the vote.

Republicans call it a witch hunt, say it’s a waste of time, and argue Congress should focus on more important issues.

Indiana Representative Jim Banks, head of the opposition GOP, called the investigation an unlawful criminal investigation of U.S. citizens and said Bannon was a Democratic Party bogeyman.

Cheney and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger are the only two Republicans on the Jan. 6 panel, and both have openly criticized Trump and his role in spurring the insurgency while the majority of Republicans in the House have remained silent. in the face of Trump’s lies about massive fraud. in the election. Trump’s claims have been dismissed by election officials, courts across the country and by his own attorney general.

The Jan.6 committee voted 9-0 on Tuesday to recommend the contempt charges after Bannon missed a scheduled interview with the panel last week, citing a letter from Trump’s attorney urging him not to answer questions . The committee noted that Bannon was not working in the White House at the time of the attack, and that he not only spoke with Trump before her, but also promoted the protests on his podcast and predicted there would be troubles. On January 5, Bannon said all hell was going to break loose.

Lawmakers on the panel said Bannon was the only one to completely defy his subpoena, while more than a dozen other witnesses were at least negotiating with them.

Mr. Bannons own public statements make it clear that he knew what was going to happen before it happened, and so he must have been aware – and possibly have been involved in – the planning of everything that happened. took place that day, Cheney said before the vote. The American people deserve to know what they knew and what they did.

Republican Representatives Peter Meijer and Fred Upton of Michigan, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, John Katko of New York, Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington joined with Cheney and Kinzinger in voting to despise Bannon. .

Mace, who represents a political swing district, told reporters after the vote that she wanted to maintain subpoena power for future Republican majorities.

I want the power to subpoena, when we begin to investigate some of the crises the Biden administration is currently facing, she said, noting immigration and withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Biden himself invoked the insurgency and linked it to the nation’s turbulent history as he marked the 10th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall.

We were faced with the stains of what remains a stain deep in the nation’s soul: hatred and white supremacy, Biden said, describing what he said was a line in American history of slavery. nowadays.

In a violent and deadly insurgency on Capitol Hill nine months ago, it was in my opinion white supremacy, he said.

Biden, who previously said the Justice Department should prosecute those who ignore congressional subpoenas, apologized Thursday for appearing to interfere with the agencies’ decisions in comments last week.

I should have chosen my words more wisely, Biden said at a CNN town hall. I did not take, I did not take and I will not take the phone to call the attorney general and tell him what he should or should not do.

Even if the Justice Department decides to prosecute, the case could take years to potentially unfold beyond the 2022 election, when Republicans could take control of the House and shut down the investigation. .

There is still considerable uncertainty as to whether the department will pursue the charges, despite Democratic demands for action. It’s a decision that will determine not only the effectiveness of the House investigation, but also the strength of Congress’ power to call witnesses and demand information.

While the department has always been reluctant to use its power to prosecute witnesses found in contempt of Congress, the circumstances are exceptional as lawmakers investigate the worst attack on the United States Capitol in two centuries.

Democrats are pressuring justice to take the case, arguing that nothing less than democracy is at stake.

The stakes are high, said Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin. What we were talking about was this massive and violent assault on American democracy.

If the Justice Department does not prosecute, the House has other options, including a civil suit. It could also take years, but would force Bannon and any other witnesses to defend themselves in court.

The lingering acrimony over the insurgency and Bannon’s subpoena erupted on Wednesday during a House Rules Committee hearing held to set the parameters for Thursday’s debate. Under intense questioning from Raskin, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican who defended Trump and opposed Bannon’s contempt effort, said he accepted Biden as president but would not say that Biden won the election.

Raskin said, I know it might work on Steve Bannons podcast, but it won’t work in the US House of Representatives Rules Committee, Mr. Gaetz. I am sorry.

___

Associated Press editors Alan Fram, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker, Alan G, and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

Sources

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2/ https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/nation-world/story/2021-10-20/house-to-vote-on-bannon-contempt-as-justice-decision-looms

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