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US Capitol riot panel votes to hold Trump ally Bannon in criminal contempt
[Image: 20201110-SteveBannon.jpg]

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers investigating the deadly assault on the United States Capitol voted unanimously yesterday to pursue criminal contempt charges for a key ally of former president Donald Trump for refusing to testify.

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon failed to comply with a subpoena to appear before the cross-party January 6 congressional select committee on Thursday last week.

The right-wing political adviser had told the panel he would be withholding testimony and documents until Trump’s claim of “executive privilege”, which allows presidents to keep certain conversations with aides secret, had been resolved.

But the nine-member committee said Bannon’s position was not a lawful basis to ignore the order and voted unanimously to adopt a report setting out the case against him.

“Mr. Bannon has no legal right to ignore the committee’s lawful subpoena,” representative Liz Cheney, vice-chair of the committee and one of only two Republican members, said yesterday during the vote. 

Experts believe Trump’s claims that he is entitled to block Bannon from giving evidence to investigators are likely baseless, since the presidential “executive privilege” carve-out is not generally understood to apply to former occupants of the White House.

Furthermore, Bannon was not even serving in government at the time covered by the subpoena.

The move paves the way for the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to vote to refer the 67-year-old former White House chief strategist to the Justice Department to consider charges.

“Mr. Bannon will comply with our investigation or he will face the consequences,” committee chairman Bennie Thompson said yesterday.

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