- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 14, 2021

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot announced that it will vote to hold Steve Bannon in contempt after the former White House strategist failed to appear for a scheduled deposition Thursday.

Thursday’s announcement comes as the panel awaits the deposition of several other Trump officials amid former President Donald Trump’s attempts to stymie the probe with executive privilege claims.

Mr. Bannon’s lawyer, Robert Costello, sent a letter to the House panel late Wednesday indicating that his client would not participate in Thursday’s deposition, citing the former president’s assertion of privilege, which he said had yet to be ironed out by the committee.

“Mr. Bannon has declined to cooperate with the Select Committee and is instead hiding behind the former President’s insufficient, blanket, and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and the committee chairman said in a statement Thursday. “We reject his position entirely.”

“The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt,” he said.

The committee will meet Tuesday to vote on whether to seek criminal prosecution, according to the statement.

The announcement comes on the same day as Kash Patel, who was chief of staff to former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, is scheduled to appear before the committee for a separate deposition.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino are scheduled to appear for depositions on Friday.

Mr. Trump has resisted the committee’s efforts to investigate his administration, but the current White House has rejected Mr. Trump’s claims of executive privilege as unjustified and “not in the best interest of the United States.”

It is unclear whether Mr. Patel, Mr. Meadows, and Mr. Scavino intend to comply with the committee’s requests. In a statement last week, Mr. Thompson and Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming Republican and the panel’s vice chair, said Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patel were “so far, engaging with the Select Committee.”

“The Select Committee will use every tool at its disposal to get the information it seeks, and witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed,” Mr. Thompson said Thursday. “All witnesses are required to provide the information they possess so the Committee can get to the facts. We’re grateful to the many individuals who are voluntarily participating and to witnesses who are complying with subpoenas, including several who met the deadline to begin producing materials to the Select Committee.”

Despite the hurdles, the committee has continued to widen its probe into former Trump officials and others involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Mr. Thompson issued a subpoena Wednesday for former Trump administration Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, who the panel says was “involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and interrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”

“The Select Committee needs to understand all the details about efforts inside the previous administration to delay the certification of the 2020 election and amplify misinformation about the election results,” Mr. Thompson said in a statement. “We need to understand Mr. Clark’s role in these efforts at the Justice Department and learn who was involved across the administration.”

Citing a recently released report by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House panel alleges that Mr. Clark proposed that the Justice Department send letters to certain state legislators to delay the election certification. Mr. Clark also recommended that senior officials in the department green light a press conference announcing an investigation into accusations of voter fraud, according to the report.

Both proposals were rejected by Mr. Clark’s superiors.

The committee alleges that Mr. Trump considered appointing Mr. Clark as acting attorney general as a result of his efforts.

“While he did not ultimately make that personnel change, your efforts risked involving the Department of Justice in actions that lacked evidentiary foundation and threatened to subvert the rule of law,” Mr. Thompson said in the subpoena.

The committee has requested that Mr. Clark produce documents related to the matter and appear before the panel on Oct. 29 for a deposition.

The panel has issued 19 subpoenas thus far targeting former Trump officials and others involved in the “Stop the Steal” rally that took place Jan. 6 on the grounds of the Capitol.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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