Steve Bannon, a longtime aide to former US President Donald Trump, has filed a motion to plead not guilty to criminal contempt of Congress charges after he failed to comply with a subpoena from the House January 6 select committee.
The motion, which was filed by Bannon’s lawyers on Wednesday, is also aimed at skipping the arraignment scheduled for Thursday.
The House January 6 committee sent Bannon’s case to the Justice Department for criminal contempt charges after he refused to comply with a subpoena deadline in mid-October.
A day before the deposition, Bannon's lawyer wrote in a letter that his client will not provide testimony or documents until the committee reaches an agreement with Trump over executive privilege or a court weighs in on the matter.
Criminal contempt is one of the three options the congressional panel can pursue to enforce its subpoenas, along with civil and inherent contempt.
After being referred to the US Department of Justice for criminal charges, Bannon could potentially face a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of $100 to $100,000.
“I'm telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. ... We’re going on the offense,” Bannon told reporters after turning himself in to federal authorities.
“Not just Trump people and not just conservatives — every progressive, every liberal in this country that likes freedom of speech and liberty should be fighting for this case. That's why I'm here today: for everybody. I'm never going to back down,” he added.
Bannon is among four of the closest allies of Trump to be charged for refusing to appear before the House committee.
Former chief of staff Mark Meadows, senior adviser Stephen Miller and former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany are the other Trump aides who have been subpoenaed by the panel.
The deadly protest at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by Trump supporters left five people dead and more than 100 police officers wounded.
Days before the incident, Bannon was reportedly on the phone with Trump, urging the president to make Jan. 6 a sort of final stand in his war on voter fraud, according to CNN.
Interestingly, Trump had fired Bannon, who was serving as his chief political adviser, back in August 2017.