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Steve Bannon Turned Himself in to the FBI Over Refusing January 6 Riot Subpoena

Steve Bannon arrives at an FBI office. Someone in the crowd behind him holds a sign reading "COUP PLOTTER"

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has surrendered himself to federal authorities after he was indicted last week for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena regarding the investigation into the January 6 Capitol riot.

Bannon was supposed to testify before Congress and provide documents to the House committee investigating the attack. He’s thought to have information about the events leading up to the riot, as Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, and other pro-Trump MAGA figures spent the week prior at the posh D.C. Willard Hotel working on a plan to convince lawmakers to overturn the 2020 presidential election. It seems Congress also wanted to ask Bannon about the January 5 episode of his War Room podcast, where he spoke about the following day’s events in ominous terms.

“It’s not going to happen like you think it’s going to happen,” Bannon said during the episode. “OK, it’s going to be quite extraordinarily different. All I can say is, strap in. … You made this happen and tomorrow it’s game day. So strap in. Let’s get ready.”

Bannon might have thought that ignoring the subpoena wouldn’t lead to any real consequences; it is rare for the DOJ to get involved in congressional disputes like this. According to the Washington Post, this kind of suit has only been filed three other times in the last 20 years.

Or maybe Bannon did expect this—he very clearly enjoys presenting himself as a sort of MAGA martyr. It doesn’t really matter. Either way, Congress and the Justice Department are looking to make an example of him.

As Rep. Adam Schiff said in a recent interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, Bannon and other Trump allies “seem to feel that they’re above the law and are free to thwart it.” Indeed, Bannon is not the only one ignoring those congressional subpoenas. Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows failed to show up for his own scheduled deposition last week.

With Bannon in federal custody, charged with two counts of contempt of Congress, each of which carries a maximum of a $1,000 fine and a year in jail (with a minimum sentence of 30 days each), that should send a message to others.

“Witnesses see that if they don’t cooperate, if they don’t fulfill their lawful duty when subpoenaed, that they too may be prosecuted,” Schiff said.

Similarly, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a press release that the charges against Bannon are a sign of the Justice Department’s commitment to “show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law.”

On his way into the FBI office where he surrendered Monday morning, Bannon took a moment to plug his show, saying they had a livestream happening on Gettr, the pro-Trump social media platform. “I don’t want anybody to take their eye off the ball for what we do every day,” Bannon said. “We’re taking down the Biden regime.”

We know, Steve. That’s what Congress wanted to talk to you about in the first place.

(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.