Southwest Florida reps vote to let Bannon off the hook

Stephen Bannon (Caricature: Donkey Hotey via Wikimedia Commons)

Oct. 21, 2021 by David Silverberg

The US House of Representatives voted today, by 229 to 202, to hold Stephen Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to obey a congressional subpoena requiring him to testify about his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection and attack on the US Capitol.

All of Southwest Florida’s congressional representatives—Reps. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.)—voted against the resolution, thereby allowing Bannon to flout the law.

Bannon was former President Donald Trump’s chief strategist and senior advisor for 210 days from January 20 to August 18, 2017. Prior to and on Jan. 6, 2021 he is believed to have played a key role in orchestrating the riot, insurrection and attempted coup. He was subpoenaed to testify by the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol but refused to obey the subpoena. Now that he has been found in contempt he may be prosecuted by attorneys from the Department of Justice.

“While [former White House Chief of Staff Mark] Meadows and [former chief of staff to the then-acting Secretary of Defense Kash] Patel are, so far, engaging with the Select Committee, Mr. Bannon has indicated that he will try to hide behind vague references to privileges of the former President. The Select Committee fully expects all of these witnesses to comply with our demands for both documents and deposition testimony,” stated the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-2-Miss.), and vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-at large-Wy.), on Oct. 8.

“Though the Select Committee welcomes good-faith engagement with witnesses seeking to cooperate with our investigation, we will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral,” they stated. 

As of this writing none of Southwest Florida’s congressmen had issued statements or explanations for their votes, although they actively tweeted on unrelated matters. They joined 199 of their Republican colleagues in voting against House Resolution 730. Nine Republicans voted for the resolution including Cheney. The House Republican leadership urged all Republican members to oppose the resolution.

The charges against Bannon were contained in House Report 117-152 from the Select Committee, which stated in its operative paragraphs:

Resolved, That Stephen K. Bannon shall be found to be in

contempt of Congress for failure to comply with a congressional


    Resolved, That pursuant to 2 U.S.C. Sec. Sec.  192 and 194,

the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall certify the

report of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th

Attack on the United States Capitol, detailing the refusal of

Stephen K. Bannon to produce documents or appear for a

deposition before the Select Committee to Investigate the

January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol as directed by

subpoena, to the United States Attorney for the District of

Columbia, to the end that Mr. Bannon be proceeded against in

the manner and form provided by law.

    Resolved, That the Speaker of the House shall otherwise

take all appropriate action to enforce the subpoena.

SWFL congressmen on insurrection day

At the time of the insurrection all of Southwest Florida’s congressmen were shaken and appalled by the violence and threats to themselves and the institution.

“On my fourth day as a United States Congressman, I followed Capitol staff into a safe room with a gas mask in hand rather than representing my constituents,” recounted Donalds in a statement issued at 10:09 pm the night of the insurrection, after the rioters had been evicted from the building. He called the rioters “lawless vigilantes” and denounced their actions as “thuggery.”

During the worst moments of the protest Donalds condemned the violence: “Americans have the right to peacefully protest & demand their government works for them—that doesn’t mean we resort to violence. Rule of law must stand during our nation’s brightest & darkest hours & that includes right now. We are better than this. There is no place for anarchy,” he tweeted at 2:49 pm in the midst of the attack.

“I witnessed our law enforcement officers being injured, gassed from their own tear gas and afraid for their lives as they attempted to hold the line,” recalled Steube in his own statement. “I and three other Members were barricaded in a room surrounded by demonstrators until the hallway was clear for us to get out.” At 5:39 pm he decried the actions and called them “completely unacceptable.”

On Jan. 6 Diaz-Balart issued a statement in both English and Spanish at 5:23 pm saying that the violence undermined the nation’s values and principles and lawbreakers should face the full consequences of their actions.

The House report and resolution now goes to the Department of Justice for prosecution.

Liberty lives in light

© 2021 by David Silverberg