WASHINGTON – Steve Bannon, former President Donald Trump’s political strategist, surrendered to federal authorities Monday following his indictment on contempt charges for defying a House subpoena seeking documents and testimony as part of an escalating congressional inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
The flamboyant Trump stalwart, expected to make his first court appearance later Monday, is charged with one contempt count involving his refusal to appear for a deposition before a House Select Committee investigating committee and another involving his refusal to produce documents. Each count carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of $100 to $1,000.
Bannon warned reporters swirling around him outside the FBI office: “Don’t get hurt.”
He livestreamed the event for his podcast “War Room” on Gettr, a social media service founded by Jason Miller, a former Trump aide who was also subpoenaed.
“We’re taking down the Biden regime,” Bannon said. “I want you guys to stay focused, stay on message. Remember, signal, not noise. This is all noise, that’s signal.”
Bannon didn’t take questions.
Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to pursue the Bannon case represents a serious escalation of the House panel’s investigative effort and an important test for the Biden Justice Department and an attorney general who has vowed to separate politics from a department roiled by the repeated interventions of Trump.
Thompson, Cheney warn others
In a joint statement issued shortly after the Bannon charges were announced Friday, committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., signaled that other witnesses, including former Trump chief of staff Mike Meadows, risk the same fate for defying committee subpoenas.
Eventful week in the Jan. 6 probe:Bannon was indicted. Meadows was a no-show, more subpoenas
Hours before the Bannon charges were disclosed, Meadows failed to show up for a deposition Friday.
“Steve Bannon’s indictment should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can ignore the Select Committee or try to stonewall our investigation: no one is above the law. We will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need,” the lawmakers said.
“While we’re determined to get all the information we’re seeking, Mr. Meadows, Mr. Bannon, and others who go down this path won’t prevail in stopping the Select Committee’s effort getting answers for the American people about January 6th…”
Criminal contempt prosecutions are rare and typically a settlement is negotiated to avoid them, according to a nonpartisan Congressional Research Service report. Litigation could take months or years.
Bannon, who didn’t work for the executive branch at the time was in contact with Trump in the days leading up to the attack on Jan. 6. Bannon’s lawyers told the committee in a letter Oct. 7 that Trump instructed him not to cooperate because the former president would fight disclosure under executive privilege – despite Bannon not working for the government.