Donald Trump Announces 2016 White House Bid

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'HAVE TO BE CONSEQUENCES': Judge ups sentences for U.S. Capitol rioters
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Jan Wolfe and Mark Hosenball
Publishing date:Oct 13, 2021 • 18 hours ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
A mob of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump climb through a window they broke as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.
A mob of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump climb through a window they broke as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. PHOTO BY LEAH MILLIS /REUTERS
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WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Washington has repeatedly sentenced people who stormed the U.S. Capitol to more prison time than prosecutors sought, saying that even people who were not violent should face consequences for joining the unprecedented assault.

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In the past week, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has imposed sentences ranging from 14 to 45 days on four people who pleaded guilty to unlawful parading and picketing inside the Capitol building on Jan. 6 – a misdemeanour offence.


“There have to be consequences for participating in an attempted violent overthrow of the government, beyond sitting at home,” Chutkan said at one of the hearings.

More than 650 people have been charged with joining the Jan. 6 violence, when supporters of Republican Donald Trump fought with police, smashed windows and charged through the building in an attempt to overturn his election defeat. So far, more than 100 people have pleaded guilty, and at least 17 of those defendants have been sentenced.

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Four people died on the day of the violence, one shot dead by police and the other three of natural causes. A Capitol Police officer who had been attacked by protesters died the following day. Four police officers who took part in the defence of the Capitol later took their own lives. More than 100 police officers were injured.

On Wednesday, Chutkan sentenced two cousins who breached the Capitol and took selfies while doing so to 45 days in jail.


Prosecutors had asked Chutkan to sentence each of the defendants – Robert Bauer of Kentucky, and Edward Hemenway of Virginia – to 30 days in prison.

A day earlier, Chutkan sentenced an unrelated defendant, Dona Sue Bissey of Indiana, to two weeks of incarceration.

Prosecutors recommended Bissey, 52, serve probation, citing her early acceptance of responsibility and cooperation with law enforcement.

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Bissey’s friend, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, avoided jail time after pleading guilty to the same crime, receiving a sentence of three years of probation from a different judge in June.

Chutkan, a former public defender appointed to the federal judiciary by former President Barack Obama, last week sentenced another defendant who admitted to the misdemeanour charge, Matthew Mazzocco, to 45 days in prison.


That court hearing marked the first time that one of the judges overseeing the hundreds of Jan. 6 prosecutions imposed a sentence that was harsher than what the government asked for.

Chutkan is not the first judge to second-guess the Justice Department’s handling of the Jan. 6 prosecutions.

Beryl Howell, the chief judge of the federal court in Washington, has suggested prosecutors were being too lenient in allowing some defendants to plead guilty to misdemeanour offences.

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At a hearing in August, Howell said even defendants facing low-level offences played a role in “terrorizing members of Congress” on Jan 6.

During a plea hearing, the judge asked: “Does the government, in agreeing to the petty offence in this case, have any concern about deterrence?”

So far, no judge has rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors in a Jan. 6 case.

Almost all of the defendants to be sentenced so far pleaded guilty to non-violent misdemeanours. The Justice Department has signaled that it plans to seek much stiffer penalties for felonies.

In the case of Florida man Paul Hodgkins, who pleaded guilty to one felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding, the Justice Department requested an 18 month sentence. U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss went lighter on Hodgkins, sentencing him to eight months.
 

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Trump sues U.S. House panel investigating Jan. 6 attack: Court document
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Publishing date:Oct 18, 2021 • 7 hours ago • 2 minute read • Join the conversation
Former U.S. President Donald Trump reacts during his speech during a rally at the Iowa States Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., October 9, 2021.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump reacts during his speech during a rally at the Iowa States Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., October 9, 2021. PHOTO BY RACHEL MUMMEY /REUTERS
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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday against the U.S. congressional committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, alleging it made an illegal request for his White House records.

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Trump asserted in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that materials sought by the House of Representatives’ Jan. 6 Select Committee are covered by a legal doctrine known as executive privilege, which protects the confidentiality of some communications between White House officials.


“The Committee’s requests are unprecedented in their breadth and scope and are untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose,” Trump’s lawyer Jesse Binnall wrote in the lawsuit.

Many legal experts have said Trump, as the former president, cannot lawfully use executive privilege to block the House panel’s requests for documents and testimony.


A mob of Trump supporters stormed the seat of Congress on Jan. 6 in a failed bid to prevent lawmakers from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory. More than 600 people now face criminal charges stemming from the event.

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Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House on a charge of inciting the attack on the Capitol in a fiery speech at a rally earlier that day. He was acquitted by the Senate.

Earlier this month, Biden authorized the National Archives, a government agency that holds records from Trump’s time in office, to turn over an initial batch of documents requested by the select committee.

The National Archives has said it will turn over the requested documents to Congress next month, according to Trump’s lawsuit, which seeks an injunction halting that process.

Michael Stern, a former congressional lawyer, said Trump’s strategy may be to use litigation to stall the select committee’s work.

“If he is willing to pay for the lawyers, Trump could delay the production of records for some time,” Stern said.

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The Jan. 6 committee has also issued subpoenas demanding testimony from Trump advisers, including political strategist Steve Bannon.

Bannon has refused to provide testimony until Trump’s assertion of executive privilege has been resolved by a court or through negotiations with the committee.

The committee said last week it would formally ask the U.S. Justice Department to bring criminal charges against Bannon because of his defiance of the subpoena.

The committee has subpoenaed other officials including former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, Trump former chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and former Defense Department official Kash Patel.
 

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Capitol police officer pleads not guilty to obstruction charges
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Mark Hosenball
Publishing date:Oct 19, 2021 • 19 hours ago • 1 minute read • Join the conversation
United States Capitol Police in riot gear stand after a rally at freedom plaza March October 2, 2021 in Washington, DC.
United States Capitol Police in riot gear stand after a rally at freedom plaza March October 2, 2021 in Washington, DC. PHOTO BY TASOS KATOPODIS /Getty Images
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WASHINGTON — A U.S. Capitol Police officer on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to charges that he obstructed a probe into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol complex by supporters of then-President Donald Trump by urging a participant to destroy Facebook posts showing him inside, warning that he could be prosecuted.

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At a hearing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, Michael Riley, who served on the Capitol Police force for 25 years, formally entered not guilty pleas to two obstruction charges filed against him last week, according to court records.


A status conference was scheduled on the case for Nov. 29. The court docket notes that if the Nov. 29 hearing “is to be converted to a disposition” then “the parties must email the draft plea paperwork” to a court clerk by Nov. 24.

A lawyer for Riley could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a six-page indictment, prosecutors alleged Riley became a Facebook friend with a suspect identified as “Person 1” on Jan. 1 and then direct messaged the individual on Jan. 7.


“Hey (Person 1), im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance,” Riley said in the message. “Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to be charged.”

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Prosecutors say Riley exchanged “dozens more” direct messages with the riot suspect on Jan. 7, including one in which he wrote “Im glad you got out of there unscathed. We had over 50 officers hurt, some pretty bad.”

Each of two obstruction charges Riley faces carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, though judges often impose sentences below the maximum.

More than 650 people have been charged with taking part in the attack, an unsuccessful attempt to stop Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory, which Trump falsely claimed was the result of widespread fraud.
 

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BONOKOSKI: Will it be three more years of Donald Trump 'mulling?'
Author of the article:Mark Bonokoski
Publishing date:Oct 20, 2021 • 10 hours ago • 3 minute read • 22 Comments
Former U.S. president Donald Trump reacts at his first post-presidency campaign rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio, June 26, 2021.
Former U.S. president Donald Trump reacts at his first post-presidency campaign rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio, June 26, 2021. PHOTO BY SHANNON STAPLETON /REUTERS
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Donald Trump apparently loves running for president.

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He has been a presidential candidate three times, in 2000, 2016, and 2020. He also “unofficially” campaigned in 2012 and mulled a run in 2004.


No doubt he’s mulling it again if his quest for political donations is any indicator because he is sending out daily requests on multiple occasions.

The beggars pop up in the email basket like whack-a-mole moles.

Although it is against the law for a presidential candidate to accept donations from outside the United States, Trump’s campaign team for some reason sees me as a past major donor — a “patriot,” they say — who should be tapped again.

But more on that later.

According to a recent report by the Washington Post, which is Amazon multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos’ ego trophy, the twice-impeached former president is holding campaign-style rallies in battleground states and had another in mid-October in Iowa.

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He is even setting up focus groups.

In recent weeks, his and his allies’ email campaigns requesting donations have hit 2020-level frequency. Trump is also constantly floating quotes implying that he’s interested in running again, and his advisers are amplifying those quotes to make sure they get aired.

For example, when a Post reporter recently asked Trump if he was going to run again, Trump replied: “We’re not supposed to be talking about it yet, from the standpoint of campaign finance laws, which frankly are ridiculous. But I think you are going to be happy. Let me put it that way.”

So, what is it then? Is it a happy yes, or is it a happy no?

“An informal poll of 13 of Trump’s current and former advisers in recent days indicated that 10 believed he would run, two said it was a public relations ploy, and another said he was not sure,” the Post reports.

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It is impossible to know if Trump does actually plan to make another White House bid, says analysts at MSNBC.

“While his massive yet fragile ego is helping fuel the idea of a triumphant return to the Oval Office, it’s also the reason he might decline to run again should poll numbers suggest he’d get thrashed,” they say.


Although neither Trump nor U.S. President Joe Biden have formally announced a run in 2024, it is unusual for a sitting president not to take a second run at the White House, but there has also been speculation that Vice President Kamala Harris will run instead of her boss.

Despite Trump being 75, Biden will be turning 82 — making him an octogenarian — before 2025’s Inauguration Day.

Speaking at that rally in Iowa, as reported in the British Independent, Trump again hinted at another run in 2024 and falsely alleged the Democrats “used COVID in order to cheat and rig” the 2020 race.

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The so-called “Big Lie” about his 2020 election loss has been a running theme since before Biden assumed office in January.

Republicans, after attacking Trump for the chaos of the insurrection of the Capitol building, have largely folded and have followed his lead since the riot. Betting odds in Britain suggest he would win a Republican nomination contest.

As reported in the Independent, Trump told the right-wing TV network Real America’s Voice that “a bad call from a doctor or something” would be one situation that would stop him from running in 2024.

Meanwhile, I’ve been bombarded with donation requests, the most interesting being that a $62 donation would get me a free American-made welcome mat that reads, “Don’t Blame This Family–We voted for Trump.”

It would be gratifying to wipe your feet on that.

markbonokoski@gmail.com
 

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Former U.S. president Donald Trump launches new social media platform
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Publishing date:Oct 20, 2021 • 2 hours ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
This illustration photo shows a person checking the app store on a smartphone for "Truth Social", with a photo of former US president Donald Trump on a computer screen in the background, in Los Angeles, October 20, 2021.
This illustration photo shows a person checking the app store on a smartphone for "Truth Social", with a photo of former US president Donald Trump on a computer screen in the background, in Los Angeles, October 20, 2021. PHOTO BY CHRIS DELMAS /AFP via Getty Images
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LOS ANGELES — Former U.S. President Donald Trump will launch his own social media app, TRUTH Social, that he said would “stand up to Big Tech” companies such as Twitter and Facebook that have barred him from their platforms.

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TRUTH Social will be created through a new company formed by a merger of the Trump Media and Technology Group and a special acquisition company (SPAC), according to a press release distributed by both organizations.


“We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favourite American President has been silenced. This is unacceptable,” Trump said in a written statement included in the release.

“I am excited to send out my first TRUTH on TRUTH Social very soon. TMTG was founded with a mission to give a voice to all. I’m excited to soon begin sharing my thoughts on TRUTH Social and to fight back against Big Tech,” he said.

The social network, set for a beta launch next month and full rollout in the first quarter of 2022, is the first of three stages in the company’s plans, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, according to the news release.

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In a slide deck on its website, the company envisions eventually competing against Amazon.com’s AWS cloud service and Google Cloud.

A Trump representative who declined to be named confirmed the contents of the TMTG news release to Reuters. Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington also tweeted a copy.

“For so long, Big Tech has suppressed conservative voices,” the former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., told Fox News in an interview. “Tonight my father signed a definitive merger agreement to form what will ultimately be the Trump Media and Technology Group and TRUTH Social – a platform for everyone to express their feelings.”


Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms banned Trump from their services after hundreds of his supporters rioted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

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That protest came after a speech by Trump in which he falsely claimed that his November election loss was due to widespread fraud, an assertion rejected by multiple courts and state election officials.

The deal will list Trump Media & Technology Group on Nasdaq through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp, a blank-check acquisition firm led by former investment banker Patrick Orlando.

Trump Media & Technology Group will receive $293 million in cash that Digital World Acquisition Corp had in trust, assuming no shareholder of the acquisition firm chooses to redeem their shares, according to the statement.

Orlando, who has worked at Deutsche Bank and BT Capital Markets, has launched at least four SPACs and has plans for two more, according to his firm’s website and regulatory filings.

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But none of the SPACs have completed a deal yet. A China-based SPAC that Orlando led failed last month to complete a merger with Giga Energy Inc that would have valued the transportation solutions provider at $7.3 billion, because it could not deliver the cash required, according to regulatory filings.

Shareholder redemptions reduce the amount of cash that Digital World Acquisition Corp will have available to give to Trump Media & Technology Group at the closing of the deal.

The companies said in the statement that the completion of the merger is subject to redemptions not exceeding an agreed minimum cash requirement. The statement did not disclose what the requirement is, though that detail is typically contained in a regulatory filing that should follow on Thursday.

The deal values Trump Media & Technology Group at $875 million, including debt, according to the news release.
 

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Donald Trump's new social media deal sparks 400% surge in SPAC's shares
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Medha Singh and Sinéad Carew
Publishing date:Oct 21, 2021 • 14 hours ago • 4 minute read • Join the conversation
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., Jan. 20, 2021.
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., Jan. 20, 2021. PHOTO BY CARLOS BARRIA /REUTERS
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Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to create a social media app after Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc barred him won an endorsement from investors on Thursday who sent shares in a shell company backing the effort soaring.

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Trump Media and Technology Group and Digital World Acquisition Corp , a Special Purpose Acquisition Vehicle (SPAC), announced on Wednesday they would merge to create a new social media app called TRUTH Social. Trump’s company said it plans a beta launch – unveiling a trial version – next month and a full roll-out in the first quarter of 2022.


SPACs such as Digital World use money raised through an initial public offering to take a private company public. The deal announcement lacked the trappings of the detailed business plans Wall Street is accustomed to in SPAC mergers, from naming a leadership team to giving detailed financing earnings and projections.

Even so, shares of Miami-based Digital World were up 340% at $44.20 a share in afternoon trading on Nasdaq after rising more than 400% earlier in the session. At that price, its market capitalization stood at $1.4 billion, up from $321 million on Wednesday.

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It was the most actively traded stock on the exchange, with more than 411 million shares changing hands and drawing chatter on forums such as Reddit, where retail investors have driven so-called meme stocks to values not supported by mainstream financial analysis. On Twitter and Stocktwits, some users cheered the rally with posts displaying rocket ships and GIFs of Trump.

Some investors said the market reaction reflected support for Trump as well as a bet that a platform with him would draw followers.

“Up to this point there hasn’t been a publicly traded vehicle for those that support the former president,” said Jake Dollarhide, co-founder of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Stamford, Connecticut, said not just Trump supporters but also opponents, media and investors would want to get on the platform to keep track of what Trump says.

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“Investors are betting that’s going to drive a lot of people to the platform,” O’Rourke said.

People close to the Republican former president, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Trump has sought to set up his own social media company since leaving the White House. Trump, contemplating another White House run in 2024, has been frustrated that he does not have a direct and unfiltered connection with his millions of followers after Twitter and Facebook barred him, these people said.


Social media giants suspended Trump’s accounts after his supporters rioted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 following an incendiary speech he gave repeating false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen from him through widespread voting fraud.

Twitter found that Trump posts violated its “glorification of violence” policy . Facebook found that Trump praised violence in connection with the deadly attack in which rioters sought to block the formal congressional certification of his election loss to President Joe Biden.

In a press release announcing the deal on Wednesday, Trump said, “I’m excited to soon begin sharing my thoughts on TRUTH Social and to fight back against Big Tech.”

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Shares of Facebook were down 0.1%, Twitter shares were down 1.4%.

Trump Media said it would receive $293 million in cash that Digital World Acquisition had in a trust if no shareholder of the acquisition firm chooses to cash in their shares.

The soaring share price on Thursday could increase the likelihood of a deal closing. Investors in the SPAC must eventually choose whether to redeem their shares at the IPO price of $10 per share, which is now much lower than the level at which what many would have bought.

Still, its future is far from certain. Digital World Acquisition, led by former investment banker Patrick Orlando, has launched at least four SPACs and plans to launch two more but none of them have completed a deal yet.

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Orlando did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Attempts to float alternatives to Twitter and Facebook have faltered in the past. Parler, a social media app backed by prominent Republican Party donor Rebekah Mercer and popular with U.S. conservatives, for example, had several tech companies cut ties with it in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot.

“Will the big cloud computing companies allow access to the app or the site and how far can he take it?” asked Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management, referring to Trump.

GETTR , a Twitter-style platform started by former Trump adviser Jason Miller, claimed more than 1.5 million users in its first 11 days after being launched in July. Despite endorsements from other Trump allies, including Steve Bannon, Miller was unable to get Trump to join the platform.
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U.S. House holds Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon in criminal contempt
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Patricia Zengerle
Publishing date:Oct 21, 2021 • 14 hours ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon exits the Manhattan Federal Court, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, Aug. 20, 2020.
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon exits the Manhattan Federal Court, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, Aug. 20, 2020. PHOTO BY ANDREW KELLY /REUTERS / FILES
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WASHINGTON — Longtime Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon could face criminal prosecution for refusing to cooperate with a probe into the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol after the House of Representatives voted Thursday to hold him in contempt of Congress.

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The Democratic-led chamber voted 229 to 202 with nine Republicans joining Democrats to recommend the charges against Bannon, who served as an aide to the former Republican president.


The matter will now be referred to the U.S. Justice Department, where Attorney General Merrick Garland will make the final decision on whether to prosecute.

Bannon has refused to comply with subpoenas from the Jan. 6 Select Committee seeking documents and his testimony, citing Trump’s insistence – disputed by some legal scholars – that his communications are protected by the legal doctrine of executive privilege.

“What sort of precedent would it set for the House of Representatives if we allow a witness to ignore us?” Democrat Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Select Committee, said in debate before the vote.

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The select committee voted unanimously on Tuesday in favour of the charges.


The Democratic-led panel hopes the threat of jail time – contempt of Congress carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine – encourages cooperation from the 18 other Trump aides and rally organizers who also have been subpoenaed.

Garland has yet to indicate how the department will respond. He told a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday the department would “apply the facts” and make decisions “consistent with the principles of prosecution.”

Most of Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress opposed even creating either an independent commission or a select committee to investigate the events surrounding Jan. 6. That day thousands of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol after he urged them in a fiery speech to protest his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden in a November 2020 election that Trump falsely claims was stolen.

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Only two Republicans – Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – are on the nine-member select committee.

The contempt of Congress statute, passed in 1857, states that the Justice Department has a duty to bring a House contempt citation before a grand jury.


But the Justice Department historically has said it makes the ultimate decision about whether to prosecute individuals who defy congressional subpoenas. The last successful prosecution for contempt of Congress was in 1974 when a judge found Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy guilty.

Asked about the vote at his weekly news conference on Thursday, Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, said the subpoena for Bannon to testify was “invalid,” making the same executive privilege argument Bannon did.

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Four people died on the day of the assault, and one Capitol police officer died the next day of injuries sustained in defense of the seat of government. Hundreds of police officers were injured and four have since taken their own lives.

The select committee argued that Bannon had made statements suggesting he knew ahead of time about “extreme events” that would take place on Jan. 6, when Congress was scheduled to certify Biden as the winner of the presidential election.

Bannon said on a Jan. 5 podcast that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” The next day, mobs of Trump supporters, many chanting “Stop the Steal” and “Hang Mike Pence,” attacked the Capitol as Vice President Pence and lawmakers met to certify the election.

The assault forced the lawmakers, congressional staff and journalists to flee as crowds rampaged through the building, raiding offices, smashing windows and stealing computers and other equipment.

The vote certification was delayed for several hours, but went ahead – despite votes against it by nearly 147 Republican members of Congress.

Trump has continued to insist falsely that his defeat was the result of fraud. Multiple courts, state election officials and members of Trump’s own administration have rejected that claim.