The decision on whether to prosecute former White House strategist Stephen Bannon for defying a congressional subpoena now rests solely with the Justice Department, which must wrestle with filing criminal charges against an ally of President Biden’s top political opponent while striving to assert its independence.
The House voted 229-202, including the backing of nine Republicans, to refer Bannon for prosecution after he refused to show for a slated deposition with the select House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
In speeches on the floor Thursday, lawmakers on the committee stressed the importance of holding Bannon to account.
“We are here this afternoon to test a proposition as old as the country’s founding. Are we a nation of laws? We are here because one man has decided that we are now only a nation of men, and that rich and powerful men need not follow the law. And the question we must confront is nothing less than this: Is he right?” House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) asked. “Are some people now truly above the law, beholden to nothing and no one, free to ignore the law and without consequence?”
But the call now belongs to Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has identified as one of his chief missions restoring credibility to a department that was heavily politicized under former President Trump.
So far, the department has done little to tip its hand about how it will address Bannon.