Steve Bannon, the former Donald Trump ally and co-founder of Breitbart News, surrendered to the FBI on Monday on charges of contempt of Congress. The 67-year-old political strategist was indicted after refusing to speak to the House committee investigating his potential involvement in inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Addressing reporters outside the FBI’s office in Washington D.C., he stated that “we’re taking down the Biden regime.”
Last week, Bannon defied a House subpoena to appear before the committee, as the Department of Justice continues to investigate what happened to cause the insurrection before President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Livestreamed on social media Monday morning before turning himself in, Steve Bannon told his supporters to “stay focused” and “on message.”
“I don’t want anybody to take their eye off the ball from what we do every day, Okay,” he told his “War Room” podcast audience, “Remember, signal, not noise. This is all noise, that’s signal.”
Bannon’s attorney, Robert Costello, previously told the House committee that the subpoena was defied since “the executive privileges belong to President Trump.”
Trump claims that court documents that the House wishes to unseal are protected, which Bannon has “honored” by not speaking to the committee. The Biden White House has yet to invoke executive action to unseal the documents.
Steve Bannon is expected to appear in court sometime late Monday afternoon, where he faces a maximum of one year in jail. District Judge Carl Nichols, who was appointed by Donald Trump, is scheduled to preside.
According to CNN, he will not be detained by authorities and will be arraigned on Thursday. He agreed to weekly check-ins, surrendered his passport, and agreed to notify the FBI with any travel plans.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement released on Friday that, “Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we 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.”
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was also subpoenaed on Friday after he failed to show up for a deposition regarding his potential role in inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Refusing to share his version of the events leading up the insurrection, Meadows cited similar executive privileges he was honoring for former President Donald Trump.
“Steve Bannon’s indictment should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can ignore the Select Committee or try to stonewall our investigation: no one is above the law. We will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need,” said a statement from representatives of the House committee.
“While we’re determined to get all the information we’re seeking,” the statement continued, “Mr. Meadows, Mr. Bannon, and others who go down this path won’t prevail in stopping the Select Committee’s effort getting answers for the American people about January 6th.”
Meadows, his attorney George J. Terwilliger III, and Steve Bannon, have all argued that they were given orders by Trump while he was still President to not speak to the committee, and that they are simply obeying the directions given to them by the President they served.
“[Meadows] knows from experience how critical it is for senior aides to be able to communicate freely with the president,” Terwilliger wrote in a statement, “and how dangerous a precedent he would set for presidents of both parties were he to appear and answer questions without limitation.”
Executive privilege allows “the President and other officials in the executive branch to withhold certain forms of confidential communication from the courts and the legislative branch,” according to the Cornell Legal Institute, but the court is allegedly able to “weigh its applicability by balancing competing interests” when invoked in litigation.
USA Today reported that criminal contempt prosecutions are rare, and negotiations are often met to reach a settlement. Unlike Meadows, Steve Bannon was not working for the government at the time, but the courts may still take months to debate the legality of his subpoena, as well as the interpretation of “executive privilege” in this investigation.