House set to recommend contempt charges against Steve Bannon

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WASHINGTON -- The House is voting Thursday connected whether to clasp Steve Bannon, a longtime state and adjutant to erstwhile President Donald Trump, successful contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the committee investigating the convulsive Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

The sheet has vowed to determination swiftly and forcefully to punish anyone who won't cooperate. In a uncommon amusement of bipartisanship connected the House floor, the committee's Democratic chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, volition pb the statement on with Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, 1 of 2 Republicans connected the panel.

Still, astir House Republicans are expected to ballot against the contempt measure, contempt the imaginable consequences for Congress if witnesses are allowed to disregard its demands.

The mostly-party enactment divided implicit Bannon's subpoena - and implicit the committee's probe successful wide - is emblematic of the earthy tensions that inactive grip Congress 9 months aft the Capitol attack.

Democrats person vowed to comprehensively probe the battle successful which hundreds of Trump's supporters battered their mode past police, injured dozens of officers and interrupted the electoral number certifying President Joe Biden's victory.

Cheney and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger are the lone 2 Republicans connected the Jan. 6 panel. Both person openly criticized Trump and his relation successful fomenting the insurrection, adjacent arsenic different Republicans person mostly remained soundless successful the look of Trump's falsehoods astir monolithic fraud successful the election. Trump's claims were rejected by predetermination officials, courts crossed the state and by his ain lawyer general.

Assuming the afloat House votes to clasp Bannon successful contempt, the substance volition past beryllium referred to the U.S. attorney's bureau successful Washington. It would past beryllium up to prosecutors successful that bureau whether to contiguous the lawsuit to a expansive assemblage for imaginable transgression charges.

Even if the Justice Department does determine to prosecute, the lawsuit could instrumentality years to play retired - perchance pushing past the 2022 predetermination erstwhile Republicans could triumph power of the House and extremity the investigation.

The Jan. 6 sheet recommended the contempt charges against Bannon successful a unanimous ballot Tuesday evening. That was aft helium defied the panel's subpoena, citing a missive from Trump's lawyer that directed him not to reply questions. The committee noted that Bannon did not enactment astatine the White House astatine the clip of the insurrection, and that helium not lone spoke with Trump earlier the onslaught but besides promoted the protests connected his podcast and predicted determination would beryllium unrest.

Lawmakers connected the sheet said Bannon was unsocial successful wholly defying its subpoena, portion much than a twelve different subpoenaed witnesses were astatine slightest negotiating with them.

The lingering acrimony implicit the insurrection, and the Bannon subpoena, flared Wednesday astatine a House Rules Committee proceeding held to acceptable the parameters of Thursday's debate. Under aggravated questioning from Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican who appeared to support Trump and reason the Bannon contempt effort, said helium accepted that Biden is the president but would not accidental that Biden won the election.

Raskin said, "I cognize that mightiness enactment connected Steve Bannon's podcast, but that's not going to enactment successful the Rules Committee of the United States House of Representatives, Mr. Gaetz, I'm sorry,."

In aboriginal statement Thursday connected the House floor, Republicans dismissed the probe and said determination were much important issues for Congress to woody with.

"House Democrats are continuing their witch hunt into President Donald Trump," said Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., speaking against the contempt vote.

There's inactive sizeable uncertainty astir whether the Justice Department volition prosecute, contempt Democratic demands for action. It's a determination that volition find not lone the effectiveness of the House probe but besides the spot of Congress' powerfulness to telephone witnesses and request information.

While the section has historically been reluctant to usage its prosecution powerfulness against witnesses recovered successful contempt of Congress, the circumstances are exceptional arsenic lawmakers analyse the worst onslaught connected the U.S. Capitol successful 2 centuries.

Attorney General Merrick Garland gave nary hints during a House proceeding connected Thursday.

"If the House of Representatives votes for a referral of a contempt charge, the Department of Justice volition bash what it ever does successful specified circumstances. It volition use the facts and the instrumentality and marque a determination accordant with the principles of prosecution," helium said.

Democrats are pressuring Justice to instrumentality the case, arguing that thing little than ideology is connected the line.

"The stakes are enormous," Raskin said successful an interrogation with The Associated Press.

The House could effort different route. A House-authorized civilian suit could besides instrumentality years but unit Bannon and immoderate different witnesses to support themselves successful court.

Another enactment disposable to Congress would beryllium to effort to imprison defiant witnesses - an unlikely, if not outlandish, scenario. Called "inherent contempt," the process was utilized successful the country's aboriginal years but hasn't been employed successful astir a century.

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Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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