The good news is that the January 6th Committee has referred Steve Bannon to the full House of Representatives for criminal contempt and referral to the Department of Justice.
The House committee investigating the January 6 US Capitol attack is expected to formally kick off the process to hold Steve Bannon, one of former President Donald Trump's closest allies, in contempt of Congress on Tuesday night when the panel is scheduled to meet and advance a referral to the Justice Department.
The measure is expected to move to a floor vote without any opposition from the committee members and marks a critical milestone in the investigation as the panel hopes even the remote threat of jail time inspires more Trump-aligned witnesses to cooperate.
In Tuesday's meeting, the committee will adopt a contempt report, which was released Monday night and outlines the efforts the committee made to get a witness to comply with the subpoena, and the failure by the witness to do so.
This report is then referred to the House for a vote. If the vote succeeds, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi certifies the report to the United States attorney for the District of Columbia. Under law, this certification then requires the United States attorney to "bring the matter before the grand jury for its action," but the Justice Department will also make its own determinations for prosecution.
Any individual who is found liable for contempt of Congress is then guilty of a crime that may result in a fine and between one and 12 months imprisonment. But this process is rarely invoked and rarely leads to jail time.
As severe as a criminal contempt referral sounds, the House's choice to use the Justice Department may be more of a warning shot than a solution. Holding Bannon in criminal contempt through a prosecution could take years, and historically, criminal contempt cases have been derailed by appeals and acquittals.
That's the bad news. Nothing's going to happen to Bannon or to any of the other Trump cultists for holding the line. This will be tied up in the courts for years.
And the worse news is there's no confirmed US Attorney for DC to prosecute this or any of the January 6th committee cases in federal court.
Senate Republicans are blocking the confirmation of President Joe Biden's pick to oversee the hundreds of prosecutions stemming from the January 6 attack on the Capitol, people familiar with the matter tell Insider.
The Republicans' "hold" on the nomination is not based on any objection to Matt Graves, a former federal prosecutor whom Biden nominated in July to serve as US attorney in Washington, DC. Instead, his nomination "is being used for leverage," Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton told Insider. She declined to specify what Senate Republicans want or which lawmakers are behind the hold.
"We've learned this on condition that we not speak about it specifically, but I can tell you that what we have learned is that the Graves nomination is not being held up for any reason connected to the nomination. And I can also say we do expect approval of this nomination eventually," said Norton, a Democrat who represents the District of Columbia in Congress as a non-voting member.
"'Caught in the fire' is how I would put it," she added, "because it doesn't have anything to do with him."
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Insider on Monday evening that he was not aware of the hold.
Norton, who recommended Graves to the White House following a fast-tracked search process, said she expects the Senate to confirm him in the "near future" and noted "it's not unusual for senators to put a hold on something in order to make a point or as leverage."
"Importantly, this leverage doesn't have to do with the District of Columbia or with the nominee," Norton said.
"This will go away. It's not related to anything that residents of the District of Columbia have concern about," she added.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.
Trump of course continues to burn up the clock from his end, now suing the National Archives to prevent the release of any of his documents.
Former President Donald Trump on Monday sought to block the release of documents related to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection to a House committee investigating the attack, challenging President Joe Biden’s initial decision to waive executive privilege.
In a federal lawsuit, Trump said the committee’s August request was “almost limitless in scope,” and sought many records that weren’t connected to the siege. He called it a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition” that was “untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose,” according to the papers filed in federal court in the District of Columbia.
Trump’s lawsuit was expected, as he had said he would challenge the investigation and at least one ally, Steve Bannon, has defied a subpoena. But the legal challenge went beyond the initial 125 pages of records that Biden recently cleared for release to the committee. The suit, which names the committee as well as the National Archives, seeks to invalidate the entirety of the congressional request, calling it overly broad, unduly burdensome and a challenge to separation of powers. It requests a court injunction to bar the archivist from producing the documents.
In a joint statement late Monday, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the panel’s vice chairwoman, said they would fight the lawsuit, which they said is “nothing more than an attempt to delay and obstruct” the investigation.
“There’s a long history of the White House accommodating congressional investigative requests when the public interest outweighs other concerns,” Thompson and Cheney said. “It’s hard to imagine a more compelling public interest than trying to get answers about an attack on our democracy and an attempt to overturn the results of an election.”
And it will 100% work, because it doesn't matter what Bennie Thompson or Liz Cheney thinks, or what President Biden does, the only thing that matters now is what five of nine Supreme Court justices decide, and they will side with Trump. Even if the documents do get released, the rest of the committee's work will be tied up in the courts for years.
At this point the most likely outcome of the January 6th Committee is...nothing. No consequences for any of Trump's goons, and especially not for Trump himself. Maybe a report gets released and the end of next year before the GOP takes over the House and dismantles the committee in January 2023, maybe we never see it. Maybe the Dems somehow keep control of the House and fight on.
But nobody should honestly be expecting a different outcome at this point. It's wishful thinking.