Despite The House’s 229-202 vote to hold Bannon in contempt for defying its January 6 committees’ subpoenas, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is standing by his claim that the January 6 select committee’s subpoena for documents and testimony from Steve Bannon is “invalid. ”
Bannon — who was a private citizen during the time of the riot on the Capitol — cited “executive privilege” in pushing back on cooperating with the panel, with his attorney Robert Costello stating that he would “comply with the directions of the courts.”
While the panel was issued subpoena power, McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the courts should determine whether Bannon would be covered by executive privilege.
“They’re issuing an invalid subpoena,” he said at a press conference prior the house vote. “Issuing invalid subpoenas weakens our power, not if somebody votes against it. He has the right to go to the court to see if he has executive privilege or not. I don’t know if he does or not, but neither does the committee.”
Bannon was subpoenaed by the panel on September 23, along with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former White House communications official Dan Scavino and former Pentagon official Kash Patel.
The full House vote comes days after Trump filed a lawsuit calling for the release of documents to the committee to be blocked under the purview of executive privilege.
Members of the committee have asserted that Bannon is a critical witness to its investigation due to his communication, stating in a report released on Monday that the former Trump adviser “appears to have played a multi-faceted role in the events of January 6, and the American people are entitled to hear his first-hand testimony regarding his actions.”
The report cites Bannon’s communication with Trump in the days leading up to the attack and “his efforts to plan political and other activity in advance of January 6,” pointing to his participation in a ”war room” organized at the Willard Hotel on January 5.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), one of the two GOP lawmakers on the panel, argued that Bannon’s refusal to comply suggests he holds pertinent information.
When pressed on what makes the subpoena invalid, McCarthy argued that the entire panel is invalid due to it passing largely along party lines.
McCarthy has long been critical of the select committee, arguing it is politically motivated. He escalated his criticisms of the panel after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rebuffed two of his five selections — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.), both allies of President Donald Trump — to sit on the committee. After the speaker rejected his picks, he opted not to have any of his members serve.
“Congress is prohibited from conducting criminal investigations, period. But that’s exactly what the select committee is doing, conducting an illicit criminal investigation into American citizens. Steve Bannon was a private citizen before, after, and during January 6. So why is the select committee interested in Steve Bannon? It’s simple. He’s a Democrat Party boogieman,” Banks said on the floor during the House vote.