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Congress Debates Criminal Contempt Charges Against Steve Bannon. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired October 21, 2021 - 15:00   ET



REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R-IL): And what has changed since then?

Getting to the bottom of those questions should be the top priority for all of us in this House. There are serious security vulnerabilities that have not been addressed by this House in 11 months after January 6.

And this is what the majority has decided to spend its time on, holding a private citizen who wasn't even part of the administration at the time in contempt for refusing to comply with House Democrats' subpoenas?

This is after more than 600 people have been arrested for their role in the tragedies we saw on January 6. And when I get the article, I would like to submit for the record, Madam Speaker, a Reuters article that talks about senior officials stating at the FBI that there was no organized effort to overthrow the government on January 6.

So I will submit it once I get a copy of that. I did not bring it with me. But our job, again, is to secure this Capitol. We have never seen a breach like the one that we saw that day. And it's our responsibility to make sure it doesn't happen again.

But that hasn't been done under the leadership of this House. We have had two independent reports regarding January 6, one bipartisan report in the Senate and another one commissioned by the speaker herself. That came out in March. These have never been acted on.

But this is what the select committee has been working on? The Capitol Police I.G. has released seven reports related to January 6, making recommendations on what is needed to secure this Capitol. To my disappointment, the majority has not acted in a meaningful way to ensure all 103 I.G. findings are implemented.

These reports have all told us what the problems are and the recommendations on how to fix them. But Congress, us, have failed to even debate these changes, let alone act on them. We know massive changes to intel, perimeter protection, training, leadership, structure, decision-making processes and many, many more are needed.

But neither the select committee nor the Committee on House Administration seem at all interested in ensuring these changes are made. The Committee on House Administration, which has oversight of security, hasn't held a single hearing since August 5, with no upcoming hearings scheduled, according to the majority's Web site.

And the select committee right now, as we see, is just purely focused on political subpoenas.

And without objection, I'd like to introduce these articles into the record, Madam Speaker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without objection, so ordered.

DAVIS: Thank you.

Additionally, a number of questions from that day still remain unanswered. I'm still waiting for the speaker of the House to answer a letter I sent her back in February that asked why the National Guard request by then police Chief Sund were denied.

And why was the speaker's office and the speaker involved in eventually approving the request? Why the House sergeant at arms has refused to comply with preservation and production requests from my office.

And we have many, many more questions about why the Capitol was so unprepared that day. Our top priority should be ensuring our Capitol is never as vulnerable as it was on January 6. But this majority has done absolutely nothing to make the security changes needed to make this Capitol safer.

Madam Speaker, we must do better. We have not fixed the institutional problems with our security apparatus that led to the lack of preparation, the danger that our brave officers were put in on that day and any other possible day like that in the future. That's a failure of leadership in this institution.

We must fix the problems that led to the terrible security posture here. And I will tell you, after witnessing what we saw a few different days and security postures that this House was put into a couple of other days since January 6, and I urge you to talk to the brave officers that stand around these buildings and protect all of us every day.

Ask them the same question I do. Ask them if we have put them in a better position than they were in on January 5. And the answer out of every single officer I ask that question to is no.


What is stopping this House from fixing the problems? It's a lack of will. It's a lack of focusing on the true issues that led for them to be put in a dangerous spot on January 5. Instead, we're talking politics. It's wrong. And we must do better.

I have said time and time again and I stand willing to work with my Democrat colleagues to make this House, this Capitol safer for everyone. Instead, it's all about political points, like the one being scored today. I'm disappointed, you can tell. My frustration is going to continue to boil over until we're in a position to fix the problems that I have laid out and that we know exist.

I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman from Mississippi.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Madam Speaker, in response to the gentleman from Illinois' statement, the first hearing of the select committee, we actually held and interviewed four officers who put their lives the line defending all of us who work here in this body.

So I assure you, my directions to the committee have always been, we will look at all the facts and circumstances surrounding what occurred. We're genuinely interested in getting to the facts.

We're working to get the answers. And that's why we are on the floor today, to get answers from Steve Bannon about what he knew, what he did leading up to January 6.

Also, the gentleman from Indiana, I'm glad he finally agreed that the select committee has a legitimate legislative purpose. And that's why we're here today pursuing that legislative purpose. So I'm happy that the record will reflect his comments.

With that, Madam Speaker, I yield two minutes to the gentlewoman from Florida, Ms. Murphy, a valued member of the select committee.


REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Madam Speaker, I rise in support of this resolution to refer Stephen Bannon to the Department of Justice for prosecution for contempt of Congress.

It didn't have to be this way. Mr. Bannon, a self-professed patriot, could have done the patriotic thing and cooperated with our bipartisan committee. If Mr. Bannon is proud of the role he played in connection with January 6, he should be eager to tell his side of the story.

And, instead, he's acting like a man who has something to hide. Our committee seeks only the truth. That is our legal charge and our moral obligation. We cannot let any individual impede our inquiry. And we will not tolerate Mr. Bannon's evasion.

Why must we be so unrelenting in our pursuit of truth? Because, on January 6, the greatest nation on Earth came under attack. And this attack wasn't carried out by officials in Beijing, Moscow or Tehran, or foreign terrorist even. It was an attack conducted by our fellow citizens, regular Americans who were radicalized because they believed outrageous lies fed to them by other Americans in positions of power and influence.

The attack was launched against the seat and symbol of our republic. It was designed to disrupt the certification of the presidential election results, to defy the will of the voters. This was no peaceful protest in a proud American tradition. It was violent and vicious. Members of the mob wielded weapons. They called for the death of the vice president. They hunted members of Congress. They caused severe harm to law enforcement officers. And the real disservice to the police comes from those who want to whitewash the violence of January 6 and pretend that violent -- the riot of that day was anything short of the violent attack it was, aimed at derailing the peaceful transfer of power.

America is not just a place. It's an idea. And on January 6, there was an attack on the very idea of America. And I believe that patriots of all political stripes should want to protect our Capitol, this country and her Constitution.

Our committee will make a full accounting of what happened...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentlelady's time has expired.

MURPHY: ... and will make recommendations to ensure it never happens again.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentlelady from Wyoming.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): (OFF-MIKE) yield three minutes to the gentleman from California Mr. Aguilar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman is recognized for three minutes.


REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): I thank the vice chair for yielding.

Like many of my colleagues, I was right here on the House floor when the violent mob attacked our Capitol. I saw those doors shaking, nearly overrun with rioters attempting to enter. I saw my colleagues shed their jackets and roll up their sleeves preparing for the eventuality.

And I saw Capitol Police acting quickly and thoughtfully to conduct a successful evacuation of members from this chamber. Their actions undoubtedly saved lives.

What we didn't know at the time was that, on the steps of the Capitol, where -- the Capitol and the Metro P.D. officers engaging in brutal hand-to-hand combat, Officer Michael Fanone told us he was grabbed, beaten and Tased, all while being called a traitor to this country.

This is what officers dealt with to defend our democracy. Some lost their lives. Many are still living with both the physical wounds and the trauma that they suffered that day. This is what our officers dealt with to defend democracy.

Officer Harry Dunn told us more than six months later: "January 6 still isn't over for me."

These officers are heroes. I want to thank the chair and the vice chair for their leadership in

making our first hearing directly from those heroes in their own words. We wanted to hear and make sure that all of our colleagues and this country heard firsthand what we experienced on the ground that day.

We asked them to explain the violence they had to endure to protect our democratic process. And, in return, they made one simple request, to get to the bottom of this. They want answers. And, quite frankly, they deserve answers.

So far, both the Metro P.D. and the Capitol Police have been excellent allies in this investigation. They have cooperated, shared their stories and expertise and provided us with key evidence and accounts of the violence they endured that day.

And we owe it to them to see this investigation through. The vote we take today is a crucial step toward removing a roadblock in our investigation. We owe it to every officer who put their life on the line that day and every day to protect us here in the Capitol. We owe them answers. And this committee intends to get to those answers by all means necessary.

I urge my colleagues to vote yes on this resolution.

Thank you.

I yield back to the gentlewoman from Wyoming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman from Indiana.

REP. JIM BANKS (R-IN): I reserve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman reserves.

Gentleman from Mississippi.

THOMPSON: Madam Speaker, I yield three minutes to the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Kinzinger, an Iraq and Afghanistan Air Force veteran and a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman is recognized for three minutes.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Well, I thank the chairman for yielding.

Let me just say first, Madam Speaker, as a Republican, don't let my side use the security posture as the straw man argument in this. The reality is, that's the equivalent of blaming the victim of a crime for the crime.

And while it is important, that's not what we're here to talk about today.

Madam Speaker, voting on a criminal contempt resolution is not the position we hoped to be in. But Steve Bannon went out of his way to earn this resolution before us. And now we must approve it. Mr. Bannon's willful disregard for the select committee's subpoena

demonstrates his utter contempt for the American people's right to know how the attacks on January 6 came about. He has advanced a ludicrous legal argument in support of his decision not to cooperate or comply, a decision that defies the rule of law and rejects the will of the American people.

Mr. Bannon's reported actions put him near the center of the investigation into the events surrounding January 6. His own words strongly suggest that the actions of the mob that stormed the Capitol and invaded this very chamber came as no surprise to him. He and a few others were, by all accounts, involved in planning that day's events and encouraged by -- those who attacked the Capitol, our officers and our democracy.

I have no doubt that Mr. Bannon's scorn for our subpoena is real, but no one -- and I repeat -- no one is above the law. And we need to hear from him.

As the select committee's contempt report states, it was Mr. Bannon who on January 5 predicted with chilling accuracy -- quote -- "All hell is going to break loose tomorrow."

On his radio show that day, he stated -- quote -- "It's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen. OK? It's going to be quite extraordinarily different. All I can say is, strap in. You made this happen. And, tomorrow, it's game day. So strap in. Let's get ready."

And it was Mr. Bannon who is recorded as saying -- quote -- "It's all converging. And now we're on the point of attack tomorrow."


Mr. Bannon said these things publicly as a private citizen, someone deeply involved with Stop the Steal movement, and he said them nearly three years after leaving his job at the White House.

Mr. Bannon was also reportedly among the small group of Trump confidants assembled at the Willard Hotel to discuss plans to stop or delay the January 6 count.

Is it any wonder that the select committee needs to hear from him, that we want to see related materials that he has? Furthermore, does anyone really believe Mr. Bannon's actions are covered by a blanket, no-questions-asked claim of executive privilege, one the former president has never actually made?

Madam Speaker, Steve Bannon is a key witness to the select committee's probe. He has yet to say or produce anything in response to the subpoena. And his assertion of executive privilege is farfetched in the extreme and not his to make.

I urge my colleagues to join me to support the contempt resolution.

And I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentlelady from Wyoming.

CHENEY: Madam Speaker, I yield three minutes to the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Raskin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman is recognized for three minutes.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I thank the distinguished gentlelady from Wyoming. And thank you, Madam Speaker.

Today, Donald Trump said the insurrection took place on November 3.

No, Mr. Trump, I'm sorry, that's what we call an election in America, an election that was validated by more than 60 federal and state courts, including before eight judges nominated to the bench by President Trump himself, and all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, all of them rejecting every claim of electoral fraud and corruption that was advanced.

We know an insurrection when we see one in this body, because we lived through one. Under the banner of this continuing and deranged big lie, the Stop the Steal movement brought down a violent insurrection against this Congress and an attempted coup against Vice President Mike Pence.

They interrupted the counting of Electoral College votes for the first time in American history. They caused the worst attack on Congress since the War of 1812. And they injured and wounded more than 140 police officers, Capitol officers, Metropolitan Police Department officers and others, breaking their noses, breaking their necks, breaking their vertebrae, breaking their arms, breaking their legs, breaking their hearts and their spirits.

We are investigating the attack on American democracy because we are Americans. We are investigating the attack on Congress by domestic enemies of our Constitution because we are sworn to do so by our oath of office.

But now the big lie has become a big cover-up. After being impeached twice by the House, after losing in 61 different courts, after seeing a 57-43 vote against him in the U.S. Senate in the most sweeping, bipartisan Senate presidential conviction vote in American history, Trump now tries to get his followers like Steve Bannon not to testify here and not to turn over evidence that they have about this vicious assault on American democracy.

In America, when you are subpoenaed to testify in court or in Congress, you show up, period. You can invoke your Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to specific questions if you think you committed a crime. You can claim executive privilege to specific questions if you think you're president of the United States.

But you cannot blow off a subpoena in America. You cannot sit on your couch and defy the people's representatives in Congress.

So, we must enforce the rule of law here, my colleagues. We must do it. If you act deliberately with sneering, cavalier contempt for the American people and their representatives, we will hold you in contempt. We will get to the truth of the violent assaults on America.

I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman from Indiana.

BANKS: Madam Speaker, you don't have to look far to realize the absurdity of what's happening in Congress today.

In fact, Politico just reported moments ago that the Capitol Police whistle-blower is telling us -- telling Politico that they have not been contacted by the January 6 select committee, the Capitol Police whistle-blower.

He said that the United States Capitol Police deserves more scrutiny than it has gotten so far and that he would talk to investigators if they reach out to him. And the select committee has not reached out to the Capitol Police whistle-blower.

Yet here we are today focused on holding a private citizen in contempt, an unprecedented action by this sham committee and their sham investigation.

With that, I yield to my colleague from Florida Mr. Gaetz.


BANKS: Two minutes. Two minutes.


Gentleman is recognized for two minutes.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Why are we here on the floor of the House of Representatives listening to the Democrats and socialists and their Republican puppets reviewing Steve Bannon's podcast?


Can't imagine that that would be the case if they actually had a bill, a reconciliation deal, legislation to help the American people. We're not here because of democracy. Save me the alligator tears on that. These are the folks who assaulted our democracy for two years under the specter of the Russia hoax.

And it's sure not about violence, because they didn't seem to give a damn when our country was being engulfed in flames during the riots in the summer of 2020. It's not about congressional process. If it was about congressional process, Democrats would be doing what they have done in other cases. They would go to court.

But the reason they haven't gone to court, like they did for Trump's taxes, in the Deutsche Bank subpoenas, in Mazars matter or in the Don McGahn matter is because, in each of those circumstances, they did not prevail in court. The courts realized that their subpoenas were overly broad. So, instead of using the real process, here we are just enduring this

politics. And because they can't build back better, they have just decided to build back meaner.

I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman from Mississippi.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Just for the record again, the gentleman from Indiana referenced the whistle-blower. We have not talked to the whistle-blower, but we have talked to the whistle-blower's lawyer. And we're doing our work. So, clearly, since he's quoting Politico, I want him to just get the record straight.

Madam Speaker, I yield two-and-a-half minutes to the gentlewoman from Virginia, Ms. Luria, who served two decades in the Navy and was among the first women to serve in the Navy's nuclear power program.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentlelady is recognized for two-and-a-half minutes.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Thank you, Madam Speaker.

To support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, we reaffirmed that oath on January 3, yet only three days later in this very chamber, this body was assaulted while carrying out the peaceful transfer of power, the very hallmark of our democracy.

I first took that oath when I was 17 years old and entered the Naval Academy. I was willing to put my life on the line to serve my country and protect the foundation of this republic, a foundation that was shaken, but not broken, on January 6.

Mr. Bannon, a former Naval officer like me, at one point understood this oath. He took it multiple times. He served his country honorably in the Navy. I don't know what happened between the time Lieutenant Bannon left the Navy and today. What forces corrupted his understanding of his oath?

Mr. Bannon has been given the opportunity to voluntarily provide information relative to the work of our committee, but he's not complied.

But, truly, this is larger than Mr. Bannon. And this is larger than this investigation. And this is larger than the tragic and horrific events of January 6. This vote is a test of that oath.

To my colleagues who chose to vote against enforcing the subpoena, you're saying to all future men and women who are called before this body that they can ignore a subpoena from Congress without consequence. You can make that choice today, but that will be a vote to abdicate the power of the legislative branch in which you are elected to serve. That would be a vote to undermine the government and the Constitution,

which you took an oath to support and defend. The consequences of that vote won't be limited to this investigation and this subpoena alone. Your vote will do serious, long-lasting damage to Congress as an institution, and that, in turn, will do serious damage to our country, which we all love so dearly.

We ask our young men and women in uniform to go forth every day and protect us, to protect this republic, to protect our form of government. I'm asking you to do the same to protect our democracy from those forces to destroy it within.

And I yield back the remainder of our time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentlelady from Wyoming.

CHENEY: I reserve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman from Indiana.

BANKS: Madam Speaker, I yield as much time as he may consume to the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Jordan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman is recognized.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Look, we have seen the worst 10 months of any administration in history. We went from a secure border to chaos. We went from safe streets to violent crime. We have seen stable prices turn into inflation and empty shelves. The respect around the world we had has now turned into the debacle that was the exit from Afghanistan.


And we went from peace in the Middle East with the Abraham Accords to thousands of rockets being fired on our friend and ally Israel, not to mention energy independence to now the spectacle of the president of the United States begging OPEC to increase production.

But what scares me most is what this administration and Democrats are doing to freedom. Every right we enjoy under the First Amendment has been assaulted over the last year, your right to practice your faith. still places today in the country where a full congregation can't meet on Sunday morning.

Your right to petition your government, your right to assemble, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, every single one has been attacked. We just learned, we just learned in the Judiciary Committee from the attorney general, attorney general -- National School Boards Association, last month, September 29, sends a letter to the president of the United States asking the FBI to get involved in local school board matters. Five days later, the attorney general issued a memo to do just that.

First sentence of the memo says this. This is the attorney general's memo. "In recent months, there's been a disturbing spike in harassment and intimidation threats at school board meetings."

We asked him a simple question. What's the evidence for that spike in threats? What's the data? What did you review? Guess what his answer was? His only evidence, the only thing he reviewed was the letter from the school board association, from a political organization.

And now they're going to target parents at school board meetings. And we have the January 6 committee issuing subpoena after subpoena. Eleven of the people that issued subpoenas to were names on an application asking the government for permission to hold the rally. Independent -- individuals exercising their First Amendment right to assemble asked the government for permission.

The government granted them permission. And now these 20- and 30-year- olds whose name are on that application, they're going to be deposed by these guys for simply exercising their First -- here's what they're asking them. Here's what they ask them.

We want to know who the selection of speakers -- who the speakers were and how were they selected. We want to know any communications these people who put their names on a permit, got permission from the government, we want to know any member of Congress you talked to. Wow.

Your right to petition your government, that's what they want to subpoena? That's why they're subpoenaing these people? This is scary where they want to go. I mean, these questions, coordination of speakers, discussions of contents, this sounds like what the IRS did to people 10 years ago when they were asking 501(c) groups applying for tax-exempt status, do you pray at the start of your meeting?

I mean, first, it's school boards. Then it's people applying for permit. We saw what they did to people -- what the IRS did to people just a few years ago, not to mention, not to mention what else the committee is doing, preservation letters to all the carriers, all the companies, preserve every call, every e-mail, every text.

Think about that. Every call someone made to -- hundreds and hundreds, supposedly, according to news reports. They have done this for texts to your spouse, calls to your mom. Preserve it all. And this is just what we know about. This is just what's been reported.

I mean, now Steve Bannon. Now Steve Bannon. Mr. Bannon is the target of the investigation, for the investigation, because -- quote -- this is from the select committee's own report -- quote -- "his efforts to plan political activity." That's the standard. You're involved in political activity, they're going to investigate you.

We know what this is really about. This is about getting at President Trump, getting at President Trump. Tried to stop -- tried to stop President Trump before he was even elected with the Russia investigation. Tried to remove President Trump from office twice. While he was in office, they tried to do that. And now they're trying to get him after the fact, after he's left, all because this guy cut taxes, reduced regulations, greatest economy in the history -- well, the greatest economy in 50 years, lowest unemployment, all because he built the wall, got us out of the Iran deal, put the embassy in Jerusalem.

When President Trump was president, Americans got their Christmas presents on time. But they're coming after him. The Reuters story said this. The FBI has found no evidence that President Trump or people directly around him were involved in organizing the violence. They don't care. They don't care the FBI has no evidence.

The Senate report said no evidence of a coordinated plan. They don't care. They're going to drag these 11 people into subpoenas, in for deposition with subpoenas, because they're so determined to get their political enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman's time has expired.

The gentleman from Mississippi.

JORDAN: I yield back. Thank you.

THOMPSON: Madam Chair, the vice chair of the committee put in record the fact that the FBI and Department of Justice declared no such thing in terms of January 6.

So, the assertion that, somehow, they have conducted an investigation is just not -- not true.

Mr. Speaker -- Madam Speaker, I yield three minutes to the gentleman from California Mr. Schiff, the distinguished chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman is recognized for three minutes.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Madam Speaker, we are here this afternoon to test a proposition as old