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Bannon indicted for defying Jan. 6 panel subpoena


I'm Mary Louise Kelly in Washington, where today, the Justice Department indicted Steve Bannon, political adviser to former President Trump, on two charges of criminal contempt for defying a congressional subpoena. This news comes hours after Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, also defied a congressional subpoena from the House Select Committee that is investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Meadows failed to appear for a deposition this morning. Here with the latest, NPR's Deirdre Walsh.

Hey there.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Hey there, Mary Louise.

KELLY: So two charges for Steve Bannon; tell us more.

WALSH: Well, a federal grand jury charged Bannon today with those two counts of criminal contempt of Congress. One was for failing to testify, and one was for failing to turn over documents to that select committee investigating the insurrection. The indictment notes that Bannon was a private citizen at the time of the attack. He did work at the White House briefly back in 2017, but he was subpoenaed by the committee, and he refused to appear, and he refused to turn over documents.

For each count of contempt of Congress, there's a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in prison if he's found guilty. There's also a fine ranging from 100 to $1,000. Bannon is expected to surrender on Monday and appear in court later on Monday.

The attorney general, Merrick Garland, said in a statement announcing the indictment that he promised the department and his employees when he took over that they would, quote, "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." And he said today's charges reflect that.

KELLY: Right. And then to Mark Meadows, who, as we mentioned, also defined a - defied a subpoena this morning. What happens next with - there?

WALSH: Well, that was expected. I mean, his attorney already telegraphed ahead of today's deadline that he was going to invoke executive privilege. And his attorney told the committee that Meadows was, quote, "under the instructions of former President Trump" and said the courts are going to have to resolve this conflict.

KELLY: So where does that leave the committee? What's their next move?

WALSH: Well, just recently, the select committee's chair, Bennie Thompson, and the top Republican, Liz Cheney, released a statement saying Meadows' actions will, quote, "force the select committee to consider pursuing contempt or other proceedings to enforce that (ph) subpoena." They rejected his claim of privilege, calling it spurious.

The committee notes that they've already talked to 150 people, and it's not unusual for a congressional committee to ask for information from former White House officials. Meadows' case could be different from Bannon's because he was a White House official at the time of the insurrection. He's a former lawmaker, and no lawmaker has ever been held in criminal contempt of Congress.

KELLY: And then speaking of executive privilege, speaking of Trump documents, there's been all this back and forth these last few days over what the former president might have to hand over and when. Where has that landed, at least for now?

WALSH: Well, right now, the National Archives, which houses presidential records - those are things like visitors logs and memos - they were supposed to hand over the first batch of documents to the committee today. But the former president went to court to block the archives from doing that.

A U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit temporarily halted the archives from handing anything over, but they did set a pretty expedited timeline to hear the arguments. Those are going to happen on November 30. And the committee points out, in earlier rulings, Trump's arguments were soundly rejected. So depending on how this court rules, the committee could get some of these records, potentially, by the end of this year.

KELLY: Lots to watch for in the coming days and weeks.

NPR's Deirdre Walsh, thank you.

WALSH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.

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