Furious Republicans condemn contempt vote against Bannon

·3-min read

Republicans raged against a House vote to hold former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress after he refused to provide evidence before the House select committee that is investigating the 6 January riot on Capitol Hill.

The select committee voted unanimously to hold Mr Bannon, a former adviser to former president Donald Trump and a podcast host, on Tuesday evening. The committee had initially issued a subpoena but Mr Bannon sent a letter to committee chairman Rep Bennie Thompson after attorneys for Mr Trump instructed him not to testify or provide evidence.

The House held a vote on Thursday, with all 220 Democrats voting in favour of contempt but only nine Republicans voting for it. Among them were Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Peter Meijer and Fred Upton of Michigan, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, John Katko of New York, Jamie Herrera Beutler of Washington, and Nancy Mace of South Carolina.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the committee was issuing an invalid subpoena.

“Issuing an invalid subpoena weakens our power,” Mr McCarthy said during his weekly news conference. “Not if somebody votes against it.”

Mr McCarthy said Mr Bannon has the right to go to court to see if he has executive privilege.

“I don’t know if he does or not but neither does the committee,” he said. “So they’re weakening the power of the subpoena by issuing an invalid subpoena.”

Mr McCarthy has long criticised the committee. He voted against the creation of a bipartisan commission in May, then when the select committee was created, Mr McCarthy appointed Reps Jim Banks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Troy Nehls of Texas, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Rodney Davis of Illinois.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow Mr Banks and Mr Jordan, both of whom were allies of the former president, to sit on the select committee. In response, Mr McCarthy pulled all of his members from the committee.

Mr Jordan touched on being pulled from the committee when he explained to The Independent why he voted against contempt for Mr Bannon.

“Why would you expect witnesses to participate when you won’t let Republicans in the actual committee,” he said. “It’s all political.”

Mr Jordan’s remarks came despite the fact Ms Pelosi did not deny three other members of the committee and Reps Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, both Republicans, sit on the select committee.

Rep Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin also said the removal of Republicans made the committee invalid.

“Therefore the committee is a sham,” he told The Independent.

Rep Yvette Herrell, a freshman from New Mexico, voted against the contempt vote and said it was a distraction and said other investigations have been conducted.

“And actually what we should be talking about is our open borders,” she said, as well as the backlog of cargo ships in California. “There’s a lot more things we should be doing this Congress that would help the American people more than this.

Similarly, Rep Beth Van Duyne of Texas, who represents a district that President Joe Biden won, said: “I think we have a lot facing our country that we need to focus on and let law enforcement do its job.”

But Ms Cheney, one of the six Republicans who voted in favour of the contempt and the vice chair of the select committee, explained the need to hold Mr Bannon in contempt.

“We need to know what happened, this body must have the ability to understand what caused the attack , to understand who was responsible and to take legislative action to ensure that it never happens again,” Ms Cheney said in a speech on the floor.

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