(TheRedWire.com) – Things are getting dicey as the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 riot moves full steam ahead. The committee is comprised of seven Democrats and two anti-Trump Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump in January. Many Republicans oppose the committee’s work, claiming the members assume Trump is guilty of a crime. At the same time, the Department of Justice (DOJ) conducts its so-called impartial investigation into what happened on that tragic day.
In early October, the committee subpoenaed former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to appear before the panel. Bannon declined and said the former president exercised executive privilege in the matter. Therefore, he had nothing to say and would not hand over any documents he may have in his possession. On October 21, the House of Representatives voted and forwarded a criminal contempt referral to the DOJ. Federal prosecutors could formally charge Bannon with a crime, but it’s unknown what the agency may or may not do.
Will Bannon Be Charged with Crime?
In recent weeks, the sticky issue centered around former President Trump’s direction to his former team not to talk or provide any documents related to January 6. He evoked executive privilege and sued the House over the subpoenas to block their investigation. On Tuesday, November 9, District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled against the former president’s attempts to shield documents related to that fateful day.
Chutkan wrote that Trump doesn’t have the authority in perpetuity to exert executive power because he is no longer president. Therefore, he can assert his records are privileged, but the sitting president is not obligated to honor the assertion. President Biden recently said he would release the documents to the committee.
So, could Bannon be charged with a crime if he refuses to appear before the January 6 select committee in light of that ruling? Because the House forwarded a criminal referral to prosecutors at the DOJ, prosecutors may charge Bannon with a crime. On Monday, November 8, US Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters the agency would review the information to discern whether or not they would charge Bannon.
The Case Isn’t Over Yet
Trump’s attorneys say they will appeal Judge Chutkan’s ruling. Court watchers expect the case to eventually go all the way to the US Supreme Court. Attorneys for the former president said he intends to defend executive privilege for past, present, and future presidents.
Despite the question about executive privilege, federal authorities could force Bannon to appear before the committee. At that point, he could elect not to share any information while the case makes its way through the courts. Authorities could also compel Bannon to release any information he shared as a private citizen with other citizens. That would need to be determined by the DOJ’s willingness to prosecute a case against Bannon and win in court.
Stay tuned. This story is likely to evolve and take on legal ramifications in future cases.
Copyright 2021, TheRedWire.com