Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who serves on the Jan. 6 select committee, on Sunday said that it wasn’t inappropriate for President Biden to urge the Justice Department to prosecute those who defy the panel’s subpoenas, following the DOJ’s terse response to the President’s remarks.
On Friday, Biden told reporters that he hopes the committee will hold those who refuse to comply with their subpoenas accountable. Asked whether those who defy the subpoenas should be prosecuted, Biden replied, “I do, yes.” Shortly after the President issued his comments, DOJ spokesperson Anthony Coley said in a statement that the department will “make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop.”
Appearing on CNN, Kinzinger was asked whether Biden’s call for the DOJ to prosecute those who defy the committee’s subpoenas were appropriate.
“I think it’s appropriate. I think the President has every right to signal. I think he has every right to make it clear where the administration stands,” Kinzinger said. “I mean, God knows the prior administration, every two hours, was trying to signal to the Justice Department. But that had to do with other pretty horrific things.”
Kinzinger added that the President has stressed that answers are needed for the lingering questions that remain after the Capitol insurrection. Kinzinger said that the contempt proceedings against former White House adviser Steve Bannon is “the first shot of the bow.”
“It’s very real, but it says to anybody else coming in front of the committee, don’t think that you’re going to be able to just kind of walk away and we’re going to forget about you. We’re not,” Kinzinger said.
Pressed on whether the committee can do a thorough investigation on the insurrection without subpoenaing former President Trump, Kinzinger reiterated that he is unsure about deploying that move.
“I don’t know. I think, if I had that answer now, I’d probably go in and not be able to see all the pieces. What we really want to do is make sure we’re getting every piece of this puzzle. And that’s going to include people that have already come in and talked to us,” Kinzinger said. “It’s going to include people that we will potentially subpoena in the future whose name you probably have never heard of, who have very good incentives to come in and talk. And that begins to put the building blocks of this together.”
Kinzinger argued that subpoenaing Trump would “become kind of a circus” and therefore the panel wouldn’t want to do so upfront, but that if the former president has pieces of information that it needs, then they “certainly will” issue a subpoena for him.
“This isn’t about necessarily even getting answers for tomorrow and hoping that the people that believe the insurrection was really some Antifa false flag thing are going to believe it,” Kinzinger said. “When I think about what we’re doing on the committee, I think in terms of, yes, I hope we can change minds tomorrow, after we get the report, basically, some time in the future, but this is about the 10-year argument. What are our kids going to think when they read the history books? Who’s going to win that argument?”
Last August, Kinzinger told CNN that he is in favor of subpoenaing to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), both of whom Kinzinger views as having information about the Capitol insurrection as well as actions that Trump took on Jan. 6.
Pressed on whether he wants to talk to Trump, Kinzinger replied that he is unsure about that because it’s dependent on “where the facts lead.”
“We may not even have to talk to Donald Trump to get the information. There were tons of people around him. There were tons of people involved in the things that led up to January 6,” Kinzinger told CNN in August. “Obviously, if you talk to the President, the former president, that’s going to have a whole new set of kind of like everything associated with it. So, when I look at that, I’m like, maybe.”
Late last month, the committee subpoenaed four former Trump administration officials: Bannon, Meadows, Patel and former White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino. The panel also subpoenaed Jeffrey Clark, a former Trump administration Justice Department official who attempted to use DOJ resources to bolster Trump’s election fraud falsehoods, last week.
Last week, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), vice chair of the Jan. 6 select committee, reiterated that the panel is prepared to advance criminal contempt charges against those who refuse to comply with its subpoenas.
After Bannon’s lawyer told the committee that his client will defy its subpoena after Trump asked former aides and advisers to invoke executive immunity in order to avoid handing over documents or giving testimony, the committee announced that contempt proceedings against Bannon will begin on Tuesday.
The panel said that it intended to refer Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress in a press release issued Thursday.
“The Select Committee will use every tool at its disposal to get the information it seeks, and witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed,” Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said in a statement.
Watch Kinzinger’s remarks below: