Protect Democracy applauds the unanimous vote by the House January 6th Select Committee to find former Trump advisor Stephen Bannon in contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a lawful subpoena, and to refer the citation to the Department of Justice.
“Refusing even to appear for congressionally subpoenaed testimony is a crime, and we expect the Department of Justice to remind Mr. Bannon that he is not above the law,” said Grant Tudor, a policy advocate for Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit working to prevent American democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government. “The Justice Department has prosecuted dozens of individuals since the criminal contempt statute was enacted in 1857. Especially given the singular stakes of this inquiry—how to prevent another insurrection—it’s incumbent upon the Department to unequivocally enforce the law.”
Protect Democracy encourages the full House to certify the citation and the Justice Department to promptly refer the matter to a grand jury. Congress’s core constitutional authority to conduct oversight rests upon the enforcement of its subpoenas, including its current efforts to investigate a violent attack on itself and to prevent future ones. As former senior national security experts from administrations of both parties have warned: “A failure to deploy the full suite of tools available to fully understand January 6th and address its causes will leave the Capitol, and the nation, vulnerable to future attacks.”
In the wake of an attempt to overturn a free and fair election and prevent the peaceful transfer of power, the Select Committee’s work is central to fortifying our democracy. In our system of separated powers, the Justice Department also has a vital role to play in ensuring an unobstructed inquiry. Protect Democracy calls upon the Justice Department to demonstrate fidelity to its mission to “ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all” and show the American people that the powerful and well-connected must follow the same rules as the rest of us, or face the consequences.