House votes to keep Trump ally Steve Bannon out of contempt

The House voted to place Steve Bannon (longtime ally and aide of former President Donald Trump) in contempt for defying a subpoena issued by the committee investigating the violent Jan. 6, 2017 Capitol insurrection.

House votes to keep Trump ally Steve Bannon out of contempt

The House floor saw bipartisanship in a rare display when the Democratic chairman of the committee, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson (one of two Republicans on it), led the floor debate alongside Republican Rep. Liz Cheney from Wyoming. The vote on Thursday was 229 to 202, with all nine GOP lawmakers voting "no."

The House votes sends the matter to Washington's U.S. Attorney's Office. There, it will be up to the prosecutors to decide whether or not to present the case before a grand jury to face possible criminal charges. The outcome of the case is still unknown. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated at Thursday's House hearing that they intend to "make a determination consistent with the principles and prosecution."

The raw tensions still roil Congress nine months after the Capitol attack are reflected in the partisan division over Bannon’s subpoena and the investigation in general.

Democrats have pledged to investigate the attack in which Trump supporters beat their way past officers, injured dozens of officers, and disrupted the electoral count that certify President Joe Biden's November win. The panel's lawmakers say that they will swiftly and severely punish anyone who refuses to cooperate in the investigation.

Thompson stated that Thompson was determined to prevent anyone from affecting our work because it is too important.

Republicans refer to it as a witch hunt and say it is a waste. They argue Congress should be focusing more on important issues.

Jim Banks of Indiana, who led the GOP opposition on floor, described the probe as an "illicit criminal inquiry into American citizens" (and called Bannon a "Democratic party boogeyman".

Only two Republicans were on the Jan. 6-panel: Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Cheney. Both have publicly criticized Trump for his role in inciting the insurrection, while most House Republicans remain silent in light of Trump's lies about massive fraud in the election. Trump's claims were denied by the election officials, courts throughout the country, and his own attorney general.

Tuesday's Jan. 6th committee voted 9 to0 to recommend contempt charges against Bannon. He missed his scheduled interview last week and cited a letter from Trump that told him not to answer any questions. The committee pointed out that Bannon was not working at the White House during the attack and that he also spoke with Trump on the podcast. He also predicted unrest and promoted protests. Bannon stated that "all hell will break loose" on Jan. 5.

The panel's lawmakers stated that Bannon was the only one who defied its subpoena. However, more than a dozen subpoenaed witnesses were at most negotiating with them.

"Mr. "Mr. "The American people should know what he knew, and what he did," Cheney said before the vote.

Cheney and Kinzinger voted to discredit Bannon, along with Republican Reps. Peter Meijer of Michigan and Fred Upton, Brian Fitzpatrick, Anthony Gonzalez, John Katko, John Katko, Nancy Mace, and Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington.

Mace, a representative of a swing political district, stated to reporters following the vote that she wanted to keep the power of subpoenas in place for future Republican majorities.

She said that she wanted the power to subpoena when they begin investigating some of the crises facing the Biden administration right away, and referred to immigration and withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Biden invoked the insurrection himself and connected it to our turbulent history when he celebrated the 10th anniversary Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on National Mall.

Biden stated, "We're facing the stains of [hate and white supremacy] that remains a deep stain on the soul of our nation," describing the American history line from slavery to the present.

He said, "In a violent and deadly insurrection at the Capitol nine months back -- it was about white supremacy for me."

Biden, who previously stated that the Justice Department should prosecute people who ignore congressional subpoenas (and apologized for appearing to interfere in the agency's decisions last week), said Thursday.

Biden stated that he should have used his words more carefully during a CNN townhall. "I didn't, haven't and will not pick-up the phone to call the attorney general to tell him what he should and should not do."

Even if the Justice Department decides to prosecute, it could take many years for the case to be resolved -- possibly pushing beyond the 2022 election when Republicans might win control of Congress and end the investigation.

Despite Democratic demands, there is still uncertainty as to whether the department will press charges. This decision will affect not only the effectiveness and power of the House investigation, but also the strength of Congress’ ability to call witnesses and demand information.

Although the department is not known for its willingness to prosecute witnesses found in contempt with Congress, these circumstances are extraordinary as lawmakers investigate the worst attack against the U.S. Capitol since two centuries.

The Democrats want Justice to hear the case and argue that democracy is at stake.

Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Representative, stated that "the stakes are immense." "This massive, violent attack on American democracy is what we are referring to."

The House can also sue the Justice Department if they don't prosecute. This could take many years, but it would force Bannon and all other witnesses to defend themselves in court.

At a House Rules Committee hearing, Wednesday's simmering anger over the insurrection and the Bannon subpoena erupted. This hearing was held to establish the parameters for Thursday's debate. Under intense questioning by Raskin, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (a Republican who defended Trump but opposed the Bannon contempt attempt) said that he accepts that Biden is president, but that he would not claim that Biden won.

Raskin stated, "I'm sorry." Sorry."

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