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Steve Bannon Subpoenas Pelosi, Jan. 6 Panel Members in Contempt of Congress Case

Steve Bannon Subpoenas Pelosi, Jan. 6 Panel Members in Contempt of Congress Case

By: Joseph Lord

June 8, 2022: Steve Bannon’s legal team has issued subpoenas to top Democrats and members of the controversial Jan. 6 House of Representatives panel in a development in Bannon’s ongoing contempt of Congress case.

In October, the Democrat-led House voted to certify a contempt of Congress charge against Bannon, who had refused a subpoena from the Jan. 6 panel, asserting a right to executive privilege as a former White House staff member.

Despite legal questions over the validity of the panel’s subpoenas, the Department of Justice decided to pursue a criminal case against Bannon.

Now, Bannon’s lawyers have issued 16 subpoenas to top members of the committee, as well as other Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who chose the panel’s members; Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s chairman; and the only two Republicans on the committee, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), were among those subpoenaed. The subpoenas, which were obtained by The Epoch Times, demand that members turn over documents touching on an array of issues relevant to the case against Bannon.

In one section, Bannon’s lawyers ask for, “All documents … regarding the establishment of the January 6th Select Committee (‘Select Committee’), its membership, its staffing, its budget, its authority and functioning, and the authority of the Select Committee to issue subpoenas.”

The circumstances surrounding the establishment of the January 6 commission, which was created in a mostly party-line vote, have been a rallying point for critics of the panel.

Despite a longstanding House tradition of allowing minority leaders to choose their party’s members on committees, Pelosi refused efforts by House GOP Leader McCarthy (R-Calif.) to name Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) ranking member of the committee. Instead, Pelosi appointed Kinzinger and Cheney to the commission in an unprecedented breach of House tradition. McCarthy withdrew his picks in protest.

The subpoenas also demand all documents “regarding President Donald J. Trump’s assertion of executive privilege in response to any request of the Select Committee.”

Since the establishment of the January 6 panel, many former Trump officials have refused to testify or hand over documents, asserting a right to executive privilege.

Legal scholars are divided on the validity of these claims. However, some GOP critics of the commission have in the past argued that because the issue is so uncertain, federal courts should be consulted before moving ahead.

The subpoenas also request all documents “that reference making an example of Mr. Bannon, punishing him, hoping to influence or affect the conduct of other potential witnesses before the Select Committee, or words or similar meaning and effect.”

Many critics have accused the Jan. 6 commission of partisanship due to the Democrat-dominated commission almost exclusively targeting Republicans.

By the same token, another request in the subpoenas suggests that Bannon’s legal team suspects bias toward Bannon by some members of the panel.

Specifically, it requests “All documents … which tend to show the bias of any Select Committee member or staff (including animosity toward Mr. Bannon, or animosity toward a group with which Mr. Bannon is affiliated).”

The documents were delivered to targeted members electronically “to avoid the spectacle of approaching individual Representatives and staff members to personally serve them,” said David Schoen, an attorney for Bannon, in a letter affixed to the subpoenas.

It is not clear whether the subpoenas have yet been accepted. A lawyer for the House did not respond to a request for comment.

Bannon was for a long time the only person to face criminal charges for refusing a January 6 commission subpoena.

On June 3, former Trump adviser Peter Navarro—who also refused the subpoena on grounds of executive privilege—was indicted by a grand jury for contempt of Congress.

The commission has not restricted itself to only former Trump officials, going so far as to target sitting members of Congress like Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), and even House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

McCarthy called the efforts to subpoena sitting members of Congress an “abuse of power,” and all three House Republicans refused to testify before the committee.

The panel also set its sights recently on Ginni Thomas, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, over claims that she texted Meadows during the Jan. 6 rally.

In view of the partisan nature of the summons and charges advanced by the commission some Republicans, including Trump, have accused it of a “witch hunt” exclusively targeting Democrats’ GOP enemies.

Others, like McCarthy, have been more ambiguous in their critiques of the committee. When the commission sent out its subpoena to Bannon, McCarthy argued that the ongoing legal disputes made the subpoena’s legitimacy unknown.

“They’re issuing an invalid subpoena,” McCarthy said. “Issuing an invalid subpoena weakens our power. He has the right to go to the court to see if he has executive privilege or not. I don’t know if he does or not, but neither does the committee. So they’re weakening the power of Congress itself by issuing an invalid subpoena.”

Following the commission’s recent decision to subpoena several prominent Republicans—marking the first time in U.S. history that sitting members of Congress have been subpoenaed by a congressional body—McCarthy further expanded on his argument that the subpoenas are potentially invalid.

“All valid and lawfully issued subpoenas must be respected and honored,” wrote Elliot S. Berke, McCarthy’s attorney, in a lengthy May 27 letter (pdf). Unfortunately, the words and actions of the Select Committee and its members have made it clear that it is not exercising a valid or lawful use of Congress’ subpoena power.

“In fact,” Berke continued, citing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) refusal to place minority-selected members on the commission, “the Select Committee is not even operating in compliance with the rules its own members voted to put in place.”

Jordan, another Republican who received a subpoena from the commission, has also refused to comply with what he called a “political vendetta.”

If convicted of contempt of Congress, Bannon faces a minimum sentence of one month in jail or a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail, in addition to a fine ranging from $100 to $100,000.

Source: The Epoch Times

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