Steve Bannon, the White House Chief Strategist under the administration of former President Donald Trump, was indicted on Friday by a grand jury for contempt of Congress, paving the way for his arrest and prosecution.
Bannon was indicted after he publicly refused to cooperate with the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, which subpoenaed his communications relating to the “Stop the Steal” rally that morning. That rally, which featured Trump and other activists seeking to overturn the result of the 2020 election, ultimately led to the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building.
Roughly 650 members of the mob that entered the building have been arrested and charged, although not all have been identified and some have escaped prosecution. However, the January 6 Committee has primarily sought to investigate the actions of the Trump administration, and some prominent Democrats have suggested that Trump or other officials specifically intended for the mob to enter the Capitol to shut down the electoral vote count set to take place that morning. The committee is particularly concerned with meetings that Bannon held at the Willard Hotel on January 5—a meeting at which Bannon reportedly said that “hell [was] going to break loose” the following day.
As part of the House committee’s investigations, a number of high-level Trump appointees, including Bannon, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Chief of Staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense Kash Patel, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino, have been subpoenaed and asked to release details of the planning of the January 6 event. All four have refused, citing executive privilege, which Trump has asserted from Mar-a-Lago on their behalf. The legality of a former president claiming executive privilege, which presidents in office can use to prevent sensitive information from being released to the public, remains uncertain and is likely to be decided by a court case in the coming weeks. Others subpoenaed by the committee include Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien, former senior adviser Jason Miller, and General Michael Flynn, who briefly served as National Security Advisor in 2017 before his ouster (and prosecution) over unannounced ties to the Russian government.
Attorney General Merrick Garland indicated on Friday that the charges against Bannon would “show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law.”
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.