A federal grand jury on Friday indicted Stephen Bannon on contempt charges after he refused to comply with a subpoena issued by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Captiol riot, CNBC reports.
The former adviser and longtime ally to former President Donald Trump was charged with two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to provide congressional investigators with requested documents and for refusing to sit for a deposition, the Department of Justice said in a press release.
"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 Garland. "Today's charges reflect the department's steadfast commitment to these principles."
A criminal prosecution is a "more serious escalation than the House's civil enforcement of subpoenas during the wide-ranging investigations of the Trump administration," notes USA Today. Such prosecutions are rare and are usually avoided with a negotiated settlement, though that could take years to play out in court. The Justice Department said each count carries a minimum of 30 days in jail and a maximum of one year, per CNN.
Bannon's indictment "sends a really important message to future invited witnesses, future folks that are subpoenaed. You cannot ignore Congress," Jan. 6 committee member and GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told CNN's Jake Tapper in response to the news. "This is certainly a good thing, and I hope it sends a chilling message."
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also failed to appear for a deposition before the committe on Friday.