Stephen Bannon, a prominent adviser to former U.S. President Donald Trump, has been criminally charged for defying a subpoena issued by a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the Justice Department said on Friday.
Bannon has refused to cooperate with the House of Representatives select committee seeking testimony and documents from him, citing that he has a right to keep the requested material confidential under a legal doctrine called executive privilege.
Bannon, 67, was charged with one count of contempt of Congress for refusing to appear for a deposition and a second count for refusing to produce documents. Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $100,000.
Justice Department spokesperson Bill Miller said Bannon is “expected to self-surrender” on Monday in Washington and make his first court appearance in the case that afternoon.
Trump has sought to stonewall the committee, which is scrutinizing his actions relating to the deadly Capitol riot, and directed his former associates not to cooperate. The charges against Bannon may bolster the committee’s efforts to secure testimony and documents from other Trump associates.
Bannon‘s indictment was announced just hours after Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows refused to appear for a deposition before the committee, risking also being found in contempt of Congress.
As a top adviser to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign who later served as White House chief strategist, Bannon helped articulate the “America First” right-wing populism and fierce opposition to immigration that helped define Trump’s presidency.
Bannon, who has promoted a variety of conservative causes and candidates in the United States and abroad, continued to offer Trump advice after leaving his White House post in 2017. Bannon is a prominent figure in right-wing media circles and previously headed the Breitbart News website.
“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,” Democrat Bennie Thompson and Republican Liz Cheney, the leaders of the committee, said in a statement.
Bannon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Mark Hosenball in Washington and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru, Editing by Will Dunham, Andy Sullivan and Rosalba O’Brien)
Copyright 2021 Thomson/Reuters