Former US president Donald Trump’s longtime advisor Steve Bannon was indicted Friday for refusing to testify to the congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot, the Justice Department announced.
A federal grand jury returned the indictment in a significant victory for the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack, which is battling efforts by Trump and top aides to use presidential privilege to block testimony and documents necessary for the probe.
Investigators think Meadows and Bannon could have information on links between the White House and the Trump supporters who invaded the Capitol to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as winner of the November 2020 presidential election.
Each count carries a penalty of one month to one year in jail.
The attack, during which five people died, succeeded in delaying the joint House-Senate election certification session for several hours.
It pointed to his presence on January 5 in activities focused on blocking the certification, when he said: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
After Trump claimed executive privilege to block the committee from interviewing his advisors and accessing his records, Bannon refused to testify.
Given the highly political background of the case, it was not clear the Justice Department would take action until Friday’s grand jury indictment.
“Today’s charges reflect the department’s steadfast commitment to these principles,” he said.
Meadows’ case for executive privilege protections could be stronger, as he was working in the White House with Trump on January 6.
After Biden, using his power as serving US president, waived the privilege over the documents, a judge on Tuesday said Trump, as only a former president, could not block them.
The case is unprecedented, pitting a former president and serving president against each other over who can wield and waive privilege.