Steve Bannon indicted for refusing to testify in Congress on assault on Capitol Hill

He refuses to cooperate with the investigation. Steve Bannon, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, has been indicted “Contempt of Congress” for his refusal to participate in the investigations into the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6, the US Department of Justice announced Friday, November 12.

The 67-year-old former adviser, who was one of the architects of Mr. Trump’s successful presidential campaign in 2016 before falling from grace, is being sued for refusing to testify and to provide documents to the special parliamentary committee investigating the attack on the seat of Congress.

Despite his summons in mid-October, Steve Bannon did not appear before elected officials invoking the right of presidents to keep certain documents and discussions confidential. But according to the commission, this protection does not apply because Trump is no longer president and has never officially asserted this privilege of the executive.

From thirty days to a year in prison

Steve Bannon was not in any official position on Jan.6 but appears to have discussed the protest with the president in the previous days, according to the commission of inquiry. He was notably part of the “crisis cell” led by advisers to Mr. Trump from a luxury hotel in Washington before and after the assault on the seat of Congress.

His testimony is seen as essential because it is supposed to help understand what Donald Trump was doing before and during the assault. “He’s a piece of the puzzle”, explained Adam Kinzinger, one of the two elected Republican members of this commission with a Democratic majority. “There are his comments from the day before January 6” which seem to indicate “That he knew what was going to happen”, added the elected. “We want to know what he knew”. On January 5, Mr. Bannon notably said on a podcast that “Everything converges and it’s time to attack”.

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He faces between thirty days and one year in prison for each count and will be tried in federal court. But the legal battle could take months or years, potentially undermining the investigation. A Republicans’ victory in the midterm parliamentary elections in November 2022 would also mark the end of the investigation.

More than 150 witnesses already heard

The commission of inquiry, which has already heard from more than 150 witnesses, launched new summonses this week against relatives of the Republican billionaire, including his former White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany or his advisor Stephen Miller.

Another close to Mr. Trump, his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, also snubbed a subpoena on Friday to appear before the Democratic-majority commission of inquiry. He invoked a court decision announced Thursday, which temporarily suspends, until November 30, the transmission of internal documents from the White House to the commission.

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The former president had invoked the right of the executive to keep certain information secret. The documents in question include the files of former close advisers to Donald Trump as well as the daily newspaper of the White House – an account of his activities, trips, briefings and phone calls.

The commission of inquiry responded in a statement that U.S. President Joe Biden had already authorized the release of the documents and that Mr. Meadows was therefore required to testify, warning the former chief of staff about the fact that he too could be charged with contempt of Congress.

The World with AFP

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Steve Bannon indicted for refusing to testify in Congress on assault on Capitol Hill

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