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Steve Bannon Could Face Criminal Charges After Failing to Show for Capitol Riot Deposition: 'Will Not Tolerate Defiance'

·4-min read
Stephen Bannon
Stephen Bannon

Alex Wong/Getty Steve Bannon

The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 pro-Trump Capitol riots will seek criminal charges against longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon after the former White House adviser was a no-show at a Thursday deposition for which he was subpoenaed.

Bannon, 67, had earlier made clear he had no intention of complying with the subpoena by the House of Representatives, though he faced one last chance on Thursday, when he was supposed to testify in front of the committee there.

When he did not comply with a request for documents or appear for the deposition, the panel announced it would vote next Tuesday to move forward with proceedings to refer Bannon for charges of criminal contempt.

While not entirely surprising, the move comes after members of the committee publicly urged Bannon to sit for the deposition.

In a Wednesday tweet, committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, wrote that he was looking forward to Bannon's testimony, saying the subpoena "is a legal order as well as a civic duty to share info about the most sweeping violent attack on Congress since the War of 1812."

A spokeswoman for Bannon did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Bannon had made clear from the onset that he didn't intend to comply.

The Associated Press reported earlier this month that an attorney for Donald Trump wrote in a letter to potential witnesses that the former president would try and assert executive privilege over the information sought by the subpoenas.

In a letter sent to the committee earlier this month, Bannon's attorney wrote, "We are unable to respond to your request for documents and testimony" until the issue resolved over whether Trump, who is no longer president, can assert executive privilege.

Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Rep. Adam Schiff, a committee member, said that the panel investigating the riots was "completely of one mind that if people refuse to respond to questions, refuse to produce documents without justification, that we will hold them in criminal contempt and refer them to the Justice Department."

RELATED: Committee Investigating Jan. 6 Attack on U.S. Capitol Subpoenas 4 in Donald Trump's Inner Circle

In addition to Bannon, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel, the former chief of staff to Trump's defense secretary, have all been compelled as witnesses to appear before the Select Committee to give testimony on Thursday or Friday.

Some 19 subpoenas related to the inquiry have been issued so far, according to the AP.

"The Committee is investigating the facts, circumstances, and causes of the January 6th attack and issues relating to the peaceful transfer of power, to identify and evaluate lessons learned and to recommend corrective laws, policies, procedures rules, or regulations," Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson said in a statement.

Meadows and Scavino are scheduled to sit for their depositions Friday.

To Bannon, Thompson wrote, "The Select Committee has reason to believe that you have information relevant to understanding important activities that led to and informed the events at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. For example, you have been identified as present at the Willard Hotel on January 5, 2021, during an effort to persuade Members of Congress to block certification of the election the next day … you are also described as communicating with then-President Trump on December 20, 2020, and potentially other occasions, urging him to focus his efforts on January 6."

RELATED: Former Vice President Mike Pence Says He, Donald Trump Don't 'See Eye to Eye' on Capitol Riot

In a statement issued to media outlets including Axios on Thursday, Thompson said Bannon had "declined to cooperate with the Select Committee and is instead hiding behind the former President's insufficient, blanket and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke. We reject his position entirely."

Thompson's statement continued: "The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt. I've notified the Select Committee that we will convene for a business meeting Tuesday evening to vote on adopting a contempt report."

CNN reports that the last person to be indicted for criminal contempt of Congress was Rita Lavelle, an official with the Environmental Protection Agency under Ronald Reagan.

After the House referred a contempt referral to the Justice Department in 1983, she was indicted by a grand jury but later found not guilty in a jury trial.

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