Washington, Nov 12 (EFE).- Steve Bannon has been charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the legislative panel investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump trying to block congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, the Justice Department said Friday.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment with two counts, one for Bannon’s defiance of a subpoena to testify, the other for his refusal to hand over documents, the department said in a statement.
Conviction on either count would mean at least 30 days in jail.
News of the charges comes weeks after the House of Representatives voted 229-202 to hold the 67-year-old Bannon in contempt.
Nine Republicans joining the Democratic majority to refer the matter to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.
“Since my first day in office, 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,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday. “Today’s charges reflect the Department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.”
Bannon told the committee he was unwilling to testify or provide documents until the courts resolve Trump’s claim that the information being sought is protected by
Lawyers for the committee point out that Bannon held no official post in January – having been dismissed from his position as White House senior adviser in 2017 – and that any relevant discussions he had with Trump would not be protected by privilege because the incumbent’s attempts to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election bore no relation to his duties as president.
Five people died as a result of the Jan. 6 disturbances, including a rioter fatally shot by law enforcement and a police officer who suffered a stroke during the confrontation.
The select committee wants to ask Bannon about comments he made during a Jan. 5 episode of his podcast.
“All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” Bannon told listeners. “So many people said, ‘Man, if I was in a revolution, I would be in Washington.’ Well, this is your time in history.”
He offered those remarks on the eve of a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington by Trump supporters who embraced his unfounded accusations of election fraud.
Addressing his partisans on the morning of Jan. 6, Trump urged them to march to the Capitol. EFE