File photo: Former White House chief strategist and media mogul Steve Bannon. Photograph:( AFP )
Bannon had refused to comply with subpoenas from the Jan 6 Select Committee seeking documents and his testimony, citing Trump’s assertions that he is protected by the legal doctrine of executive privilege
The US House of Representatives has voted to hold former president Donald Trump’s advisor Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to cooperate with a probe into the January 6 insurrection on the United States Capitol.
According to CNN, the vote, which took place on Thursday, was split at 229-202, with nine Republicans joining Democrats to recommend the charges against Bannon, who served as chief strategist for the former president.
US Attorney-General Merrick Garland will make the final decision on whether to prosecute.
“The Department of Justice will do what it always does in such circumstances, we'll apply the facts and the law and make a decision, consistent with the principles of prosecution,” CNN quoted Garland as saying.
Bannon had refused to comply with subpoenas from the Jan 6 Select Committee seeking documents and his testimony, citing Trump’s assertions that he is protected by the legal doctrine of executive privilege.
According to experts, the action marks a significant escalation in how far Democrats are willing to go to rebuke individuals who refuse to cooperate as the House select committee investigates the violent attack that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election
“What sort of precedent would it set for the House of Representatives if we allow a witness to ignore us flat out without facing any consequences?” Democrat Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Select Committee, said in debate before the vote.
The select committee voted unanimously on Tuesday in favour of the charges.
The Democratic-led panel hopes the threat of jail time - contempt of Congress carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a US $100,000 fine - will encourage cooperation from the 18 other Trump aides and rally organisers who also have been subpoenaed.
Most of Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress opposed creating either an independent commission or a select committee to investigate the events surrounding Jan 6.
Only two Republicans - Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger - are on the nine-member select committee.
On January 6, thousands of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol after he reportedly urged them in a fiery speech to protest his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden in a November 2020 election that Trump falsely claims was stolen.
(With inputs from agencies)