A day after Steve Bannon’s lawyer told the House Jan. 6 committee that his client will defy its subpoena, the committee published a bristling statement vowing to consider referring uncooperative witnesses for criminal contempt of Congress.
“While Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patel are, so far, engaging with the Select Committee, Mr. Bannon has indicated that he will try to hide behind vague references to privileges of the former President,” Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and vice chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) said in a statement.
Bannon’s lawyer, Robert Costello, told the committee Thursday that former President Donald Trump had asked advisers to invoke executive immunity in order to avoid handing over documents or giving testimony.
Bannon, Meadows, Patel and former White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino comprise the committee’s first round of subpoenas.
Bannon in particular had departed from the White House by 2017, long before January 6 and the events leading up to it, making his claims of executive privilege even more suspect. To hold Bannon or any witness in criminal contempt, the committee would have to hold a vote on a contempt resolution, which would then go to the full House for a vote.
The committee is seeking to depose all four men next week, which could set up more potential contempt referrals if the deadline is ignored.
“Though the Select Committee welcomes good-faith engagement with witnesses seeking to cooperate with our investigation, we will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral,” the committee chairs wrote.