House holds Stephen Bannon in contempt

Several Republicans voted in favor, Pence abstains

The House voted on Thursday to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
The House voted on Thursday to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted October 21, 2021 at 4:50pm

The House on Thursday voted 229-202 to hold former White House adviser Stephen Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

The vote was largely along party lines, but nine Republicans did vote in favor of the resolution, H.Res. 730. They are: Reps. Peter Meijer and Fred Upton, both of Michigan, John Katko of New York, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, as well as Jan. 6 select committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming and her colleague on the panel, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Indiana GOP Rep. Greg Pence, whose brother, former Vice President Mike Pence faced death threats on Jan. 6, and was with him that day as the Capitol was breached, did not vote.

Only two Republicans — Cheney and Kinzinger — voted in favor of the creation of the Jan. 6 select committee in June. That resolution passed 222 to 190.

Cheney, Kinzinger, Katko, Upton, Meijer, Gonzalez and Herrera Beutler make up seven of the 10 GOP members who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump following the insurrection.

“Madam Speaker, voting on a criminal contempt resolution is not the position we hoped to be in, but Steve Bannon went out of his way to earn this resolution before us and now we must approve it,” Kinzinger said on the House floor.

Select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., noted on Tuesday that Bannon “stands alone in his complete defiance of our subpoena.” Others subpoenaed by the panel have been at a minimum engaging with the panel.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. is now tasked with determining whether to convene a grand jury. Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor crime that could result in a fine and up to a year in jail.

Bannon is withholding information “critical” to the select committee's investigation, the panel said in its report recommending contempt to the full House, which was unanimously approved 9-0 on Tuesday. It notes Bannon reportedly spoke to Trump leading up to the insurrection, promulgated the event and said on his Jan. 5 podcast: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

Bannon, a private citizen who left the White House in 2017, told the committee through his lawyer that he is unable to comply with the subpoena until executive privilege claims by Trump are resolved.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters before the vote it is important to the institution that Republicans join Democrats in pursuing charges against Bannon.

“If in fact, you want to negate the ability of one check of another branch of government over another, then you are undermining the Constitution,” Pelosi said. “So this goes beyond Bannon in terms of its importance. And you would think that if they take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, they would vote for the system of checks and balances.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Thursday called the subpoena issued to Bannon “invalid”  and criticized Pelosi’s decision to block two of his Republican appointments to the panel. McCarthy then pulled all five of his picks to serve on the committee and said he doesn’t view it as a legitimate committee.

“Anytime you put out an invalid subpoena, you weaken the ability of any future Congress,” McCarthy said of the select committee.

Disagreements over how to respond to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and Trump's continued false assertion that the election was fraudulent led the House GOP to first oust Cheney from the conference's No. 3 leadership position. Her role on the select committee continues to broaden the rift in her party.

A fundraising consultant that had been working for Cheney dropped her after a lobbyist close to McCarthy, Jeff Miller, began “warning Republican political consultants that they must choose” between Cheney and the House GOP leader, The New York Times reported.

The action comes after Cheney raised $1.7 million during the third quarter to the $300,000 raised by Harriet Hageman, a GOP challenger endorsed by Trump. Cheney had $3.7 million in her account on Sept. 30 to Hageman’s $220,000.

Miller told the Times that Cheney was not only working against McCarthy, she was working against the GOP conference. McCarthy’s office did not comment to the Times, but Cheney’s spokesman, Jeremy Adler, said the leader “is continuing down the morally bankrupt path of embracing House Republicans who are white supremacists and conspiracy theorists, but attacking Liz Cheney for telling the truth and standing for the Constitution.”

Todd Ruger and Kate Ackley contributed to this report.