Steve Bannon, a former adviser and strategist to former US President Donald Trump and a well-known far-right activist, has been charged with outrage to Congress because of his refusal to testify before the House Committee of Inquiry investigating the assault on the Capitol (the seat of Congress, in Washington DC) of last January 6.
Bannon’s testimony was requested by the commission along with that of other people close to Trump, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Daniel Scavino and former chief of staff of the defense ministry Kash Patel.
The goal of the committee hearings is to assess whether Trump had somehow favored the group of his supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6 with the aim of stopping the certification vote of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
The commission, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, voted unanimously to recommend the House to indict Bannon: the House will vote on Thursday on the recommendation: if approved, it will report it in turn to the Department of Justice which will have to decide whether to officially indict. or not Bannon. In the event of trial, if convicted, Bannon would face up to twelve months in prison.
Bannon had been Trump’s strategist during the 2016 election campaign. In 2017, after several disagreements with the former president and some members of his administration, he was dismissed. In the last months of Trump’s presidency, however, Bannon had reconnected with the former president, and according to the House Inquiry Committee had supported him in his attempts to overturn the election result.
On his last day as President, Trump also pardoned Bannon. A few months earlier, in fact, Bannon had been arrested on charges of having appropriated the donations collected for the construction of a wall in a stretch of the border between Mexico and the United States, in order to stop migrants.
Bannon justified his refusal to testify by arguing that communications involving the President of the United States are protected by “executive privilege” (“executive privilege”), the presidential right not to disclose certain topics to Congress.
Trump also challenged the commission: he sued it for filing an alleged illegal request to obtain confidential documents regarding his presidency. The request was in turn made after current President Joe Biden authorized to share a series of confidential White House documents on the January 6 attack.
In the civil suit, filed in the Washington DC District Court, Trump argues that the commission’s requests are “unprecedented in scope”, and claims that those documents are protected by “executive privilege.” As the New York Times, both the accusation against Bannon and Trump’s cause will be important factors in understanding how far “executive privilege” can protect the president and his allies, and how far the House committee can go in its investigation.