Ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon indicted on criminal contempt of Congress charges

On Friday, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury. He was charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions from the House Committee tasked with investigating the Capitol incident on January 6.

So far, Bannon is the first to be prosecuted for contempt of Congress when executive privilege has been asserted. Past cases had involved defendants whose testimony was sought in relation to their government service; Bannon, though, left his White House job in 2017, long before the period of time that is relevant to the interest of the House Committee.

The House voted on October 27 to find Bannon in contempt after he chose not to provide the committee with documents and testimony related to the January 6 riot. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland released a short statement discussing the decision to indict Bannon: “Since my first day in office,” he wrote, “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. Today’s charges reflect the department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.” 

In a joint statement released on Friday, committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said the indictment should be a warning to other former Trump officials who are looking to defy a congressional subpoena.

“Steve Bannon’s indictment should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can ignore the Select Committee or try to stonewall our investigation: no one is above the law,” they wrote. “We will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need.” 

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