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Lawmakers are debating the resolution declaring Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress

Steve Bannon is pictured in New York on August 20, 2020.
Steve Bannon is pictured in New York on August 20, 2020. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images)

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is expected to vote soon on whether to approve the Jan. 6 committee’s report recommending Steve Bannon, one of former President Donald Trump’s closest allies, be held in criminal contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena from the committee investigating the attack on the Capitol.

The action marks a significant escalation in how far the panel is willing to go to rebuke individuals who refuse to cooperate as it investigates the violent attack that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The vote by the full House will set up a referral to the Department of Justice, which would then have to decide whether to prosecute. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday said the Justice Department would review any referral, but at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, he did not say what the department’s decision would be.

“The Department of Justice will do what it always does in such circumstances, we’ll apply the facts and the law and make a decision, consistent with the principles of prosecution,” Garland said.

The House vote comes after the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack formally approved the recommendation Tuesday night. It will stand as a warning to potential witnesses about the consequences of not cooperating with the investigation.

Debate on the House floor is now underway as lawmakers gear up to vote on the rule that will provide for consideration of the contempt resolution. That will be followed by a final vote on the resolution later in the day. 

On Tuesday night, members of the committee blasted Bannon for refusing to cooperate with the panel’s probe and warned that he is “isolated” in doing so as other witnesses are working with the panel.

“Our goal is simple: We want Mr. Bannon to answer our questions. We want him to turn over whatever records he possesses that are relevant to the select committee’s investigation,” the committee chairman, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, said in his opening remarks.

Republican Rep Liz Cheney of Wyoming, one of two Republicans on the committee, said during the meeting that “it appears that Mr. Bannon had substantial advance knowledge of the plans for January 6th and likely had an important role in formulating those plans.”

“The American people are entitled to Mr. Bannon’s first-hand testimony about all of these relevant facts,” she said.

Bannon has previously argued that he is unable to cooperate with the committee until matters of executive privilege are resolved by the courts.

His attorney has told the committee that “the executive privileges belong to President Trump” and “we must accept his direction and honor his invocation of executive privilege.”

“The plain fact here is that Mr. Bannon has no legal right to ignore the committee’s lawful subpoena,” Cheney said on Tuesday.

You can read more on what happens next here.

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