In October 2021, the House of Representatives voted to find Trump associate Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress after Bannon refused to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. In November 2021, the Justice Department indicted Bannon, and the trial is currently scheduled to begin this summer. So what’s been happening in the interim?
To catch up, Quinta Jurecic spoke with Lawfare senior editors Roger Parloff and Jonathan David Shaub. Roger has been following the Bannon prosecution closely and wrote about it in a recent Lawfare article—and Jonathan has written a great deal on Lawfare about the Office of Legal Counsel’s positions on executive privilege, including how they might affect prosecutions for contempt of Congress. Bannon recently filed a motion to dismiss, making the argument that he believed Donald Trump’s supposed invocation of executive privilege made it unnecessary for him to comply with the subpoena—relying heavily on memos from OLC. What should we make of Bannon’s arguments? How is the Justice Department navigating a legally tricky situation? And what, if anything, might this case tell us about the other contempt of Congress cases coming out of the Jan. 6 committee, which the Justice Department has yet to bring?