President Joe Biden’s Justice Department indicted Steve Bannon on Friday, former President Donald Trump’s one-time White House senior counselor and a former chairman of Breitbart News.
The Justice Department indicted Bannon on two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to appear after the select committee to investigate the January 6 riots issued a subpoena for him to testify.
“Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would 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,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a statement.
Bannon did not appear before the committee, made up of Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans, citing former President Trump’s executive privilege.
In the indictment, the Justice Department argues that Bannon was a private citizen when he was organizing and speaking with Trump about the January 6th protest after leaving the White House in 2017.
Bannon’s attorney informed the committee he would not comply with the subpoena because Trump claimed the subpoena sought records and testimony that could fall under executive privilege.
News of the indictment demonstrates the Biden administration’s willingness to pursue former political rivals, opening up future administrations to possible prosecution.
Previous American presidential administrations have resisted investigating their former rivals, even after promising during an election to do, on the merits of protecting executive privilege.
Bannon faces up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine for each count of contempt.
The indictment comes one month after President Joe Biden said he believed the Justice Department should indict Trump allies who defied the subpoenas.
“Should they be prosecuted by the Justice Department?” a reporter asked Biden on October 15.
“I do, yes,” Biden replied.
Days later, Biden admitted his comment was “not appropriate,” even though he ultimately shared his views about what the Justice Department should do.