Former Rep. Barr: Bannon Contempt Charges ‘Partisan Abuse of Power’

Former Rep. Barr: Bannon Contempt Charges 'Partisan Abuse of Power' bob barr speaks at event Former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., speaks at the National Press Club Sept. 5, 2008, in Washington, D.C. ( Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 22 November 2021 01:15 PM

Former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., called the criminal indictment against Steve Bannon "a partisan abuse of power" by House Democrats "abetted by President Joe Biden and his Justice Department."

Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was released without bail last week after a hearing on criminal contempt charges for defying a subpoena from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s partisan House select committee investigating events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Thr 67-year-old former Trump adviser had been indicted on two counts of criminal contempt — one for refusing to appear for a congressional deposition and the other for refusing to provide documents in response to the committee’s subpoena.

In a Monday opinion column for the Daily Caller, Barr said the Democrats used House resolution 503 to make "a half-hearted stab at linking the formation of the select committee (and giving it subpoena power) to some sort of legislative function."

"After seven pages of incendiary verbiage about 'insurrection' and 'domestic terrorism' (acts not charged against a single of the nearly 700 individuals arrested for activities relating to the Jan. 6 disturbances), the resolution declares three 'corrective measures' that possibly could result from the committee’s work," Barr wrote.

"This rhetorical fig leaf, however, should never be permitted to serve as the basis for convicting an American citizen for simply refusing to aid the Democratic Party in a vendetta against a former president."

Barr, who represented Georgia''s 7th Congressional District from 1995 to 2003, said H. Res. 503 repeatedly refers to the "domestic terrorist" — which never is defined nor made criminal under federal law. There "is no such crime as 'domestic terrorism,'" Barr said.

He added that using a congressional subpoena to gather information that's not based on any existing federal crime or linked reasonably to any legislation appears to fall short of the required threshold for criminal contempt.

After Bannon refused to appear before the committee, the panel and then the entire House voted last month to hold him in contempt.

"In earlier, more 'normal' times, that would be where the matter would remain," Barr wrote.

"For example, of the five criminal contempt citations referred by the House to the Department of Justice since 2008, none resulted in grand juries returning indictments. In fact, the most recent examples of criminal contempt of Congress cases actually being successfully prosecuted took place in the 1970s as part of the Watergate scandal."

Barr added that in "most such disputes cooler heads prevail," with Congress using its civil contempt power to obtain information it needs. However, the chamber's goal with Bannon appears to be "punishing an individual not of the majority's liking" as opposed to seeking information.

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