“As the committee investigating January 6 enters a key week of subpoena and deposition deadlines, committee members were unified on Tuesday in stating that criminal contempt should be the next step for anyone who defies their subpoena. And soon. While lawmakers have said publicly that the committee is prepared to pursue criminal charges for non-compliant witnesses, members are now making it clear that a referral to the Department of Justice will almost certainly come quickly if they do not get the level of cooperation they are looking for,” reports CNN.
“The move would leave it up to Attorney General Merrick Garland to decide on involving the DOJ in pursuing charges, putting the department in the middle of what many Republicans view as a partisan effort. ‘I think we are completely of one mind that if people refuse to respond to questions refuse to produce documents without justification that we will hold them in criminal contempt and refer them to the Justice Department,’ Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and committee member, told CNN Tuesday.”
“Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the panel, echoed that sentiment, telling CNN ‘the committee is completely in solidarity’ on the decision to move quickly on pursuing criminal contempt charges for those who evade subpoena deadlines.’People will have the opportunity to cooperate, they will have the opportunity to come in and work with us as they should,’ Cheney said. ‘If they fail to do so, then we’ll enforce our subpoenas.’ The committee’s plans could change based on the information the panel receives from those who choose to cooperate but at the moment, members appear to have settled on a path forward.”
“Even though lawmakers who serve on the committee are unified in making criminal contempt the next step for anyone who defies their subpoena, exactly when that next step is taken seems to be up to one person: Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel’s chairman.
Kash Patel and Steve Bannon are scheduled for depositions on October 14 and Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino are scheduled for depositions the following day. While the committee has shared that Patel and Meadows are engaging with them, they were only recently able to successfully serve Scavino and Bannon has so far not been cooperating. So the question becomes how soon after October 15 does the committee act on those individuals who ignored their deposition date.”
Many Americans are feeling frustrated and skeptical that Democratic leaders will act. Political strategist and Lincoln Project consultant Rick Wilson recently posted an outraged diatribe where he mentioned that “…if you don’t enforce the subpeonas, hang it up now. Just declare that Trump’s President again, and tell Steve Bannon he can be emperor of the right wing universe and let it all go…if you’re not serious about it, if you’re gonna play and fuck around with it, if you’re gonna bring in a bunch of soft-handed academic bullshit and talk about the causes of radicalization, then get the fuck out of here…these are criminals who decided to overthrow the United States government…They came to murder you. They would have dragged you out in the street and stomped you to death. and if you don’t investigate them, and punish them and bring them to justice, they’ll do it again.” Wilson then went on to say: “an insurrection that is not punished is a training exercise”, and excoriated any Democrats who want to push aside the committee proceedings to get back to the infrastructure bill.
Based upon recent observations of social media, including observations of comments on this site and on Twitter, it appears that many Americans agree with Wilson’s views, and are becoming frustrated with the lack of aggression demonstrated by Democrats in Congress. If the Democratic Party does not go hard on the January 6th investigation, and start arresting people and making them testify before Congress, and on national television just like Republicans did to Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi hearings, then they might as well not even bother campaigning for the 2022 mid-terms. The American people want to see their leaders stand up to support the rule of law, and this situation requires immediate legal action. Any mealy-mouthed declarations like “well we’re going to have a meeting to determine whether we should form a committee to investigate whether we should issue these criminal referrals” will only aggravate voters and end up creating a chasm among independent voters and Democratic Party members who feel that no one is supporting them because the Democratic Leadership are too feckless and timid to stand up for the rule of law.
If the January 6th subpeonas are not immediately and aggressively enforced, then the chances of Republicans regaining a majority in Congress in 2022 become overwhelming, and when that happens Republicans will proceed to abandon every historical norm in existence for the purpose of trying to stymie the Biden agenda and turn President Biden’s life into a living hell. Thinking that the January 6th insurrection can be fobbed off with slap on the wrist punishments like censure or “a declaration of the sentiment of the House” is pure political myopia. January 6th was a serious attack on our government and our Democracy by people who want to destroy our form of government and institute an authoritarian regime with Trump in charge, and if the Democratic leadership ends up enabling that loss of Democracy by failing to be aggressive when aggression is called for, then they will be just as much to blame for the demise of our Republic as the people who stormed the Capitol building on January 6th and the Republican lawmakers and activists who coordinated and funded those efforts.