The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to prosecute Stephen Bannon for defying a congressional subpoena could give the House committee investigating the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol as it seeks to negotiate interviews with non-congressional advisers. cooperated with ex President TrumpDonald Trump Pennsylvania Republican Party-controlled Senate will spend up to 0K on election inquiry Trump congratulates Rittenhouse on acquittal Memo: Rittenhouse verdict impacts polarized nation MORE.
Bannon, a former White House strategist, turned himself in to law enforcement and pleaded not guilty this week after a federal grand jury indicted him on two counts of contempt of Congress.
While Bannon vows to fight the case as a way to protect Trump’s assertion of executive privilege, the looming two-year jail sentence and up to $ 200,000 in fines could be persuasive for several former aides who have yet to be seen. sitting in charge. bowel movements
“Most importantly, the Justice Department went ahead with the Bannon prosecution because I think that will have the most profound impact on people’s willingness to cooperate and follow the law, as the rule of law has returned and is enforced. equally to all “. Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett Schiff Unquestionable Press Promotes Rep. Adam Schiff’s Book Based on Russian Fiction Stoltenberg Says Jan 6 Siege Was Attack on “ NATO Core Values ” in Sunday Shows: Biden Officials Craft a inflation message MORE (D-Calif.), A committee member, told reporters on Thursday.
“I think it has certainly had an impact on people’s willingness to cooperate, people’s willingness to follow the law. I can’t detail that for you, “he said, adding:” Certainly there are others who I think have been encouraged to cooperate seeing that the path of destruction can lead to jail. “
The indictment surprised some who weren’t sure whether the Justice Department would be willing to back a House investigation so focused on Trump’s circle amid an effort to reassert its independence.
But it poses a potential problem for the former White House chief of staff. Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsAfter a Year of Blatant Ethics Violations, Congress Must Reform Corruption Laws The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – Gosar Censored as Republican Drama Elevates Bannon to Plead Not Guilty to Contempt Charges MORE, who is the committee’s latest target after he failed to appear for a required deposition earlier this month after it was said he was “engaged” with the committee since he was first summoned in September.
Others named on the same day as Meadows, such as Trump’s communications guru Dan Scavino and former Defense Department chief of staff Kash Patel, have also not sat down to testify.
And the committee last week sent a wave of subpoenas to 10 other former White House aides and high-ranking government officials.
Bannon’s case is progressing as Trump’s defiance of the Biden administration’s release of his presidential records to the committee met with an early setback in court.
A federal district judge sided with the committee’s claim that the power to withhold congressional documents and testimony rests largely with the incumbent president, and Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote of Trump that “presidents are not kings. and the plaintiff is not president. ” His decision to allow the release of the records has been blocked by a higher court while the matter is on appeal.
Bannon has largely sought to portray himself as a martyr, even as legal experts warn that a victory is difficult to secure, given that he was not even a White House employee at the time in question, making the claiming executive privileges is more complex.
“Not just the Trump people and not just the conservatives, all the progressives, all the liberals in this country that likes free speech and liberty should fight this case. That is why I am here today: for everyone. I’m never going to back down, ”Bannon said earlier this week.
Still, even when Meadows’ attorney sent a letter this week saying his involvement would hinge on legal disputes that must be “properly resolved by the courts,” Trump’s former chief of staff adopted a more conciliatory tone in a rare television appearance on Monday. Monday.
“He has exercised, and rightly so, his executive privilege. And it’s not up to me to give it up. And it put me between a rock and a hard place, ”Meadows said of Trump.
“I want to make sure I don’t comment too much on the facts of the matter. These are complex legal issues that, hopefully, I will let the attorneys resolve in a spirit of accommodation, ”he added later.
The committee has not yet decided how to deal with Meadows, warning that his defiance “will force the Select Committee to consider initiating contempt or other proceedings to enforce the subpoena.”
But Brad Moss, an expert on national security law, said much of the response from other former Trump advisers could hinge on how Meadows decides to proceed.
“The impeachment against Bannon made clear that both the committee and the Justice Department were not playing on their willingness to prosecute those who blatantly defied subpoenas. The real threshold will be if a former government official who was still working for the government at the time, like Meadows, is accused of categorically refusing to comply, ”he told The Hill by email.
“If the Justice Department crosses that proverbial Rubicon, it could see a wave of lower-ranking officials lacking in great fundraising skills seeking to cooperate rather than put themselves at risk.”
That could include Jeffrey Clark, a former mid-level Justice Department attorney whom the president considered installing as attorney general as a way to have an ally in his efforts to undo state election results. Clark appeared for a deposition earlier this month, but was said to be uncooperative and did not appear again in the afternoon.
Like Meadows, he faces possible referral for criminal prosecution from the same department where he worked, and the committee warned of “strong measures to hold him accountable for complying with his obligation.”
The committee has emphasized that many are cooperating with their investigators, who have now sat down with more than 200 witnesses and received nearly 25,000 documents.
“There may be some people who want to go down the road of absolutely defying a subpoena and not participating, but I think the vast majority of them will understand that they have a legal duty, they have a civic obligation to participate,” Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben Raskin Maryland Democrats target lone Republican in redistribution scheme GOP leader’s marathon speech forces House Democrats to boost voting House Democrats seek answers after testimony from Florida teachers briefly blocked MORE (D-Md.), Who is part of the committee, told reporters this week.
“Most of the people are still very cooperative. Most people come and voluntarily interview the committee or testify before the committee. And, you know, for us, it’s not a game. … We have already shown our seriousness by referring criminal charges for contempt in the case of Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin Bannon Prosecutors, Defense Disagreeing Over Pace Of Bannon’s Contempt Trial Bannon Will Plead Not Guilty To Contempt Charges The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented By ExxonMobil – House Democrats Expect Large Vote On Biden’s measure MORE, and the Justice Department is definitely back in action, ”he said.
And the grand jury issued an indictment. So we hope that this sends the message to everyone that no one here is going to operate with impunity and in contempt of the law, “he added.