Steve Bannon's histrionic refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena has finally been stopped short by the U.S. Justice Department, which sought and received a federal grand jury indictment of Bannon on two counts earlier this week.
Bannon was taken into custody like any regular citizen. He was later released, but only after surrendering his passport.
The move by the Justice Department was unusual. It's been nearly 40 years since the department last pursued criminal contempt of Congress. But it was needed in this case to quell the growing coterie of Trumpers who truly seem to believe they can ignore Congress and the law itself and get away with it.
This should make clear the rule of law remains in force, and woe to those who misguidedly believe they have some special immunity through their association with a former president.
In Bannon's case, the subpoena was served in late September, ordering him to appear by Oct. 7. The committee has said Bannon joined other Trump backers at the Willard Hotel near the Capitol on Jan. 5, where they tried to convince lawmakers to vote against certifying Biden's election. Bannon also used his podcast platform to declare that "all hell is going to break loose" on Jan. 6.
Despite being legally required to provide information about his conversations with Trump prior to the attack, Bannon refused, claiming nonsensically that Trump has executive privilege even though he is no longer president. Others in Trump's inner circle have adopted the same tactic of refusing cooperation, including communications aide Daniel Scavino and Kashyap Patel, a former White House national security aide.
The Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is now weighing whether to also indict former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows for failing to comply with the subpoena issued to him. The committee should do so — and without delay. In fact, every Trump crony and ally who thinks they can indiscriminately break the law by rejecting a subpoena should also be indicted.
The bipartisan Select Committee's work to get to the bottom of the Jan. 6 insurrection is far too important and has already been delayed for far too long. With every passing day, the memory of that attack grows dimmer, while some actively work to try to transform traitorous scoundrels into heroes and martyrs.
Bannon, ever ready to play the victim, said at his indictment that he was "going to go on the offense" and that "this is gonna be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden."
Nearly a year has elapsed since the fateful day that a fanatical band of right-wingers — homegrown terrorists — lay siege to the Capitol in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. They bludgeoned police, busted windows and terrorized lawmakers who had to hide in fear of their lives while members of the crowd chanted "Kill Mike Pence."
Getting to the bottom of what and who drove those events requires a thorough and fearless search for facts that cannot be obstructed by the likes of Bannon, Meadows and others.
That task, regrettably, is being made infinitely more difficult by Republican lawmakers such as Rep. Jim Jordan, who said his party could seek payback in the future by requiring Biden appointees to testify should they retake the House.
These are nothing more than threats being deployed to prevent Americans from knowing the full truth about the events that led to Jan. 6 and should be ignored.