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House to vote on contempt of Congress charge for Steve Bannon, decision then heads to Justice

Coming up on one year after the January 6 breach, Democrats and the select panel continue to tout its significance

Published: October 21, 2021 7:23am

Updated: October 21, 2021 8:02am

The House will vote Thursday on whether to hold former Trump White House aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress after he failed to answer a subpoena from the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.

The Democrat-led committee has said it will act swiftly to punish anyone who fails to cooperate with its probe. 

The vote in the House is expected to succeed, after which the issue will be placed in the hands of the Justice Department, which will determined whether to prosecute Bannon. 

The department has historically been reluctant to use its power of prosecution against witnesses found in contempt of Congress. Though, there is significant added pressure on this investigation, as Democrats in Congress focus on continuing to examine the breach nearly a year after it happened.

Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the committee, along with Wyoming Republican Rep Liz Cheney will lead the debate on the bill. Most House Republicans are expected to vote against the bill.

Pressure is mounting on Attorney General Merrick Garland to take up the cause.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat on the committee and a constitutional law professor, says "the stakes are enormous."

"The Congress of the United States under Article One has the power to investigate in order to inform our deliberations about how to legislate going forward. That’s what this is about," he said.

Should the House vote succeed, the case will be handed to the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, where it will be up to top prosecutors to present the case to a grand jury for potential criminal charges. 

Even if the Justice Department does opt to prosecute Bannon, the case could take years to play out. If Republicans win back a majority in the House in 2022, they can, at that point, decide to end the investigation. 

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