Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s conviction is a victory for the House Jan. 6 select committee as it continues to seek the cooperation of reluctant witnesses in its historic investigation.
It is also a victory for the Justice Department, which is under intense scrutiny for its approach to matters related to the Jan. 6 attack.
Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury in November after he blew off October deadlines for producing the documents and testimony the committee had subpoenaed.
In demanding his cooperation, the committee had pointed to Bannon’s contacts with Trump in the lead up to the Capitol assault, his presence in the so-called war room of Trump allies at the Willard Hotel in Washington the day before the riot, and a prediction he made on his podcast before the riot that “all hell” was going to “break loose.”
“In short, Mr. Bannon appears to have played a multi-faceted role in the events of January 6th, and the American people are entitled to hear his first-hand testimony regarding his actions,” the House committee report recommend a contempt resolution against him said. The House voted to hold Bannon in contempt in October.
Bannon is one of two uncooperative witnesses to be charged so far by the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro was indicted by a grand jury last month for not complying with a committee subpoena and has pleaded not guilty.
When the House committee was demanding his cooperation, Bannon’s lawyer claimed that Trump’s stated assertions of executive privilege prevented Bannon from testifying or producing arguments — an argument the committee roundly rejected. Lawmakers noted that Bannon had for years not been a government official, while pointing to their interest to topic areas not involving conversations with Trump.
At the trial, however, Bannon’s arguments about executive privilege were not a central focus — even as his lawyers found ways to bring attention to the issue. They did so in the face of rulings from the judge deeming it largely irrelevant, under appellate precedent, to the elements of the contempt crime.