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Who is Steve Bannon? Former Trump advisor held in criminal contempt after House vote

The former chief strategist to the Trump presidency was issued with a subpoena by the select committee investigating the Capitol Hill attack but has failed to cooperate.

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Who is Steve Bannon? Former Trump advisor held in criminal contempt after House vote
Andrew Kelly REUTERS

On Thursday the House of Representatives voted in favour of holding Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with subpoenas relating to his knowledge of the Capitol Hill insurrection on 6 January.

Bannon, who was previously a senior advisor to the successful Trump 2016 presidential campaign before leaving the White House under a cloud, has refused to cooperate with the select committee investigation into the attack on Congress.

In refusing to comply with the subpoenas, Bannon’s lawyers have fallen back on Trump’s legal team’s claim that the communications of the president are covered by the legal doctrine of executive privilege. This, Bannon’s lawyers allege, ensures that Bannon cannot be obliged to reveal details of conversations between himself and President Trump.

House passes resolution in 229-202 vote

At the final vote all 220 Democrats presents, as well as nine Republicans, supported the resolution to hold Bannon in criminal contempt. The issue will now move to the justice department, who will decide whether or not to press forward with charges against Bannon. If found guilty he could face a hefty fine, as well as a maximum of 12 months imprisonment.

“The department of justice will do what it always does in such circumstances,” attorney general Merrick Garland told the committee. “We’ll apply the facts and the law and make a decision, consistent with the principles of prosecution.”

Who is Steve Bannon?

Bannon grew to prominence in American politics after co-founding the influential, yet controversial Breitbart News site in 2007. The media organisation grew in the following decade and became popular with many right-wing groups, both in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Under Bannon’s guidance the site has published many unfounded conspiracy theories; linking migration to rising crime rates in the US and Europe and forwarding ‘Birther’ accusations against Barrack Obama.

Bannon was named chief executive of Trump’s 2016 campaign and later became chief strategist to the Trump presidency. He was soon removed from the administration after reportedly falling out with members of the Trump family but is thought to have retained the trust of President Trump.

In voting to hold him in criminal contempt, the House Select Committee alleged that Bannon played a central role in the organisation of events that culminated in the 6 January attack on the Capitol, coordinating with the White House and Trump personally.

Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the committee, said: “Based on the committee’s investigation, it appears that Mr. Bannon had substantial advance knowledge of the plans for January 6th and likely had an important role in formulating those plans.”

She added: “Mr. Bannon was in the war room at the Willard on Jan. 6th. He also appears to have detailed knowledge regarding the president’s efforts to sell millions of Americans the fraud that the election was stolen.”