A federal grand jury has indicted Steve Bannon, a one-time adviser to former President Donald Trump, on two counts of contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena from the House committee that is investigating the events of Jan. 6.
The grand jury returned a two-count indictment.
Bannon has been charged with one count due to his refusal to appear for a deposition and another count because he refused to produce documents.
“As detailed in the indictment, on Sept. 23, 2021, the Select Committee issued a subpoena to Mr. Bannon. The subpoena required him to appear and produce documents to the Select Committee, and to appear for a deposition before the Select Committee,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves said in a statement.
“According to the indictment, Mr. Bannon refused to appear to give testimony as required by subpoena and refused to produce documents in compliance with a subpoena.”
“Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law,” Garland said.
“Today’s charges reflect the department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.”
The Justice Department’s news release said that each of these counts of contempt carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, along with a fine of $100 to $1,000.
“The grand jury was presented with overwhelming and irrefutable evidence of Steve Bannon’s violation of a congressional subpoena. The justice system of the United States is not going to tolerate these contemptuous violations of the rule of law,” Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who serves on the Jan. 6 committee, told CNN.
Bannon has been in the eye of D.C.’s political storms for some time now, though he last worked in Trump’s White House in 2017.
But this two-count indictment that Bannon now faces could give the House committee more leverage.
“Without an indictment, critics have said, there’s doubt over how much power the House January 6 select committee has to compel cooperation from former White House and Trump administration officials,” CNN reported.
That is why the indictment is important to many in Congress.
Other former Trump administration officials have spoken to the committee.
Politico reported that Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general during the final days of the Trump administration, spoke to the committee in October.
The indictment of Bannon, however, is somewhat unusual, as The Wall Street Journal noted.
“The case against Mr. Bannon represents a rare kind of prosecution for the Justice Department, which has declined to act on other contempt-of-Congress referrals in recent years,” the WSJ reported.
The White House has declined to comment on the indictment, according to CNN.
The DOJ clarified that the case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and will be prosecuted by the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
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