Logo
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Trump and Bannon fight Jan. 6 investigation

The House inquiry into the Jan. 6 riot is raising legal questions about the ability of a former president to keep personal records secret


Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon (right) listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in Washington on Jan. 31, 2017. Associated Press/Photo by Evan Vucci, file

Trump and Bannon fight Jan. 6 investigation

Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, made headlines last week when he was held in criminal contempt of Congress. The contempt charge came after Bannon refused to comply with a subpoena from a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

On a Jan. 5 podcast episode, according to subpoena documents, Bannon encouraged listeners to attend “Stop the Steal” protests across the country and said, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” The House committee said his testimony is essential due to evidence that he spoke with Trump shortly before violent protests erupted in the nation’s capital.

But Bannon claims he cannot legally comply with the subpoena until legal questions are resolved regarding executive privilege—the ability of presidents to withhold certain documents and information from the other branches of government.

Bannon’s case highlights a presidential showdown over thousands of pages stored in the National Archives. The committee has requested documents about the planning and organizing of the Save America rally and other events in Washington on Jan. 5 and 6, along with anything involving attempts to overturn the election results. Trump’s legal team is fighting the request in court, arguing the documents should be kept secret. The case raises legal questions over the power of a former president to withhold information.

Under the Presidential Records Act, when a president leaves office, his documents are immediately submitted to the National Archives. But they are not available for public view for another five years. The Jan. 6 select committee wants to sidestep this. President Joe Biden has refused to invoke executive privilege, which would block the committee from accessing the documents.

On Oct. 18, Trump sued the House select committee and the National Archives. His lawsuit rests on three main arguments: First, the documents might contain classified national security information; second, he still has a constitutional right to executive privilege; and third, the National Archives and both presidents need more time to review the documents. The suit asks for an injunction on the document request while the case is pending.

The committee maintains that the benefits of its investigation outweigh the concerns about executive privilege. Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and vice chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., promised they would challenge Trump’s suit. “It’s hard to imagine a more compelling public interest than trying to get answers about an attack on our democracy and an attempt to overturn the results of an election,” they said in a joint statement.

Presidents have a complicated history with executive privilege. President Richard Nixon famously invoked executive privilege to keep documents secret during the Watergate investigation. Since then, leaders have struggled to fight the perception that using executive privilege indicates they are hiding something. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both cited executive privilege over investigations during their presidencies. (In both instances, courts refused their requests, citing the Nixon precedent.)

Trump’s complaint argues that, under current court precedents, the committee’s request does not meet the standards needed to overrule a sitting president’s right to privacy for personal records. But critics say those standards should not apply because Trump is no longer the sitting president and the documents in question are not personal. In a Washington Post op-ed last week, former California appellate lawyer Teri Kanefield said Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 rally was a political activity not covered by executive privilege in the first place. “Ultimately, the court will have plenty of grounds to make short work of this absurd lawsuit,” she wrote.

Trump’s advantage, though, is that the litigation will likely take time to play out, perhaps extending past the 2022 elections.

“It seems quite likely that the committee is correct that, as a legal matter, it is entitled to most of the information and testimony it seeks,” wrote Jonathan Shaub, assistant professor of law at the University of Kentucky and a former Obama administration adviser, on the Lawfare website. “But, as a practical matter, the committee may never receive it.”

Settling the executive privilege question will take time, but meanwhile, Bannon still faces his own potential court battle. In his case, the courts would need to decide whether he as an outside adviser and private citizen can claim executive privilege as a reason to refuse testimony.

If the Justice Department chooses to prosecute Bannon for contempt of court, a trial could take years. If convicted, he faces hefty fines and up to a year in prison.


Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Harrisburg, Pa.

@CarolinaLumetta

COMMENT BELOW

Please wait while we load the latest comments...

Comments

Please register, subscribe, or login to comment on this article.


Tom Hanrahan

I have failed until now to properly discharge my responsibilities, when participating in these forums, to follow Biblical admonitions from Romans 16:17, Titus 3:10-11, Prov 26:4, Prov 18:2, II Tim 2:23, & elsewhere. I will now correct this by declining in the future to reply to anything Salty posts, as his modus operandi is to make multiple false accusations against me (“believe everything they say”, I haven’t “adequately evaluated”, I need to “open my eyes”, “not many but one or two” false prophets [there were dozens, google it]) and in general.

Peace to the rest of you who post and read here, and to the fine people at World Mag.

Salty1

Tom, you typically spread the left’s message. Why do you think that message is even true? You have many Christians on the right reporting and the left side you typically have radical unbelievers. Why do you trust the unbelievers?

Tom HanrahanSalty1

Your first statement is false; or at the least, tainted. I will make an honest attempt to give my thinking.
I typically spread the message that the vast majority of reporters, investigators, etc. agree with. Some of those are left, right, middle; unbelievers, believers. There are some Christians on *what some people call the right* spreading what appears to me and many others to be biased selective information; which happens to support some of the current GOP party's positions, and against the Dem's positions. Many "Christians on the right" were found to be false prophets in the fall of 2020, telling us God informed them Trump was going to win. Am I supposed to trust them?
I am *very against* the vast majority of the cultural Democratic party positions. Many of them are evil. But if the FACTS line up with the Dems in some cases, I have to support the facts, even if it helps the party whose platform I dislike. The facts are not owned by unbelievers. We are to "test all things and prove what is good" . Sometimes unrighteous people can join with righteous and make common sense points.

Salty1Tom Hanrahan

Your message and the left’s message is very much in agreement, where you seem to have bought into their lies. Would you agree that the left with many actors in government illegally went after Trump to not only spy on him but to remove him from office? Have you ever looked at the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. What about the illegal FISA Warrants? Why did the leftist MSM give us nonstop coverage playing up the Russian collusion story? And even now they continue to pretend this didn’t happen.

Don’t you see the leftist MSM is an arm of the Democratic Party? So why do you believe everything they say? The fact that they propagated this lie for so long should give you pause to wonder about their honesty, integrity and credibility.

“I typically spread the message that the vast majority of reporters, investigators, etc. agree with. Some of those are left, right, middle; unbelievers, believers.”

The vast majority of reporters were in on the reporting of the Russian Collusion narrative and they pushed it since before Trump was elected. The two impeachment’s had absolutely no basis and the vast majority pushed that. Typically, they create a narrative about some event which is based on half truths and lies.

For example, the January 6th riot they claimed that the rioters beat to death a police officer with a fire extinguisher which was a lie. The man had a stroke and died of natural causes. The instigators behind the attack on the Capitol were primarily implanted FBI and other government agents. The alleged leaders couldn’t organize a 100 person trip to DC let alone organize the overthrow of our government. The FBI agent overseeing the 1/6 investigation was the same one who was involved in investigating the Michigan attack - he was rapidly promoted. There too they used the same tactics of actually organizing the attack by the undercover FBI agents. There too the goal was to create a false narrative of the dangerous right.

Don’t you see the double standard in letting the rioters on the left go free while the Capitol rioters are still languishing in a DC prison under very harsh conditions where they are denied bail and can’t even see their own families? This should make you aware that something isn’t right.

“There are some Christians on *what some people call the right* spreading what appears to me and many others to be biased selective information”

Yes, we are saying that conspiracies are being waged by the left which you don’t believe, but you haven’t adequately evaluated them. I challenge you to open your eyes and look at the evidence and see for yourself. Would you deny that Zuckerburg paid nearly a half a billion to influence the election? Do you really believe that he didn’t expect to flip the election? Do you really believe that all the money went to honest means? You seem very naive to believe this if you do?

“Many ‘Christians on the right’ were found to be false prophets in the fall of 2020, telling us God toed them Trump was going to win. Am I suposed ot trust them?”

There weren’t “many Christians” but just one or two overzealous charismatic Christians. You cannot use one or two to paint all Christians on the right as endorsing their prophecies.

“I am *very against* the vast majority of the cultural Democratic party positions. Many of them are evil. But if the FACTS line up with the Dems in some cases, I have to support the facts, even if it helps the party whose platform I dislike.”

I would agree that we should align with the true facts but I would challenge you to make sure your “FACTS” are true and be willing to look at facts that don’t necessarily align with your beliefs. You need to recognize that there are many on the Internet tasked with creating the “truth” so you cannot automatically believe “fact checkers”, Wikipedia, and the latest Internet headline.

The left have garnered much more power in the last 10 years and they have shown they aren’t afraid to use it for example in shutting down people who go against their narratives. If you are smart, you should be able to see this overreach over time and say, “This just doesn’t add up!”

So yes, I am saying the left are hatching conspiracies to take the right (including Christian Right) down that if we aren’t careful will seriously hurt the church (e.g. deny religious liberty, create hate speech laws shutting down churches, economically impacting Christians, denying our political voices by stealing elections and so much more).

“We are to ‘test all things and prove what is good’. Sometimes unrighteous people can join with righteous and make common sense points.”

Sounds like you are making the case for Trump*. LOL. I agree with you here but I would challenge you to make sure you are following the “common sense” and recognize the conspiracies and propaganda spewed by the left.

*To be fair to Trump he lived morally like a Christian when he was in office except for a few comments he made that which were over the top, but then I and most Christians make similar mistakes. Trump spoke openly and clearly what he believed and thought which was not a lie. The left charged him with lying which was completely wrong.

JOHN B STONE DMIN

Check out Tucker Carlson's first episode on the Jan. 6-Leftist, all creepy all the time and prove Tucker wrong, please. Because if he's right and all the folks he interviewed are right, we are in bigger trouble than you think.

Tom HanrahanJOHN B STONE DMIN

I will go watch it, as you suggest. But a simple google search shows many false claims made by Mr Carlson. Unless of course, you discredit most news sources a priori.

ISAIAH 8:12 Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.

An alternate question might be, what trouble are we in if we spool ourselves up on false narratives?

2 Tim 2:16-17a Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene.
2:23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
4:1-3 I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Salty1

This is a witch hunt by the left where they are trying to persecute anyone involved with Trump. If the left was serious about a fair investigation they sure would not select an anti-Trumper like Liz Cheney who hates Trump with a passion. These fake investigations are fishing trips to look for anything to “get” Trump and his supporters. The Capitol Protests were pushed to be riots by Pelosi, the Capitol police, the FBI and likely the intelligence agencies. Tucker Carlson at Fox Nation is doing a weeks long investigation on it. The show of keeping the largest amount of troops ever at the Capitol and encircling it with fences and barbed wire shows how deliberate they were to discredit Trump and his followers and supporters.