House GOP leaders are taking the position that complying with congressional subpoenas is now optional in America. On Wednesday, the GOP leadership team urged its caucus members to vote against holding Trump adviser and ally Steve Bannon in contempt for defying a duly issued congressional subpoena. Last week, Bannon skipped out on a scheduled deposition with the House select committee investigating Jan. 6, making an executive privilege claim that even conservative legal scholars have scoffed at.
The full House vote on the criminal contempt charge against Bannon, scheduled for Thursday, comes after the Jan. 6 panel voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve holding Bannon in contempt for ignoring its subpoena.
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the committee's vice chair and a former member of the GOP leadership team, clearly anticipated the lawlessness her erstwhile colleagues would advance. At Tuesday's hearing, Cheney blasted Bannon's subpoena dodge and urged her fellow GOP representatives to hold him to account.
"There is no conceivably applicable privilege that could shield Mr. Bannon from testimony," Cheney argued, adding that the panel had no choice but to seek "consequences."
"Mr. Bannon's and Mr. Trump's privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing, however: they suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th," Cheney conjectured. "We will get to the bottom of that," she promised.
Holding Bannon accountable wasn't just important for this investigation, Cheney said; it was "important for all congressional investigations."
Then Cheney addressed her Republican colleagues directly.
"Almost every one of my colleagues knows in your hearts that what happened on January 6 was profoundly wrong," she said. "You all know that there is no evidence of widespread election fraud sufficient to have changed the results of the election. You all know that the Dominion voting machines were not corrupted by a foreign power. You know these claims are false, yet, former President Trump repeats them almost daily and he has now urged Republicans not to vote in 2022 and 2024."
"This is a prescription for national self-destruction," Cheney continued, asking her Republican members to consider the "fundamental questions of right of wrong."
"All of us who are elected officials must do our duty to prevent the dismantling of the rule of law and to ensure that nothing like that dark day in January ever happens again," Cheney concluded.
Instead, House Republican leaders—Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and conference chair Elise Stefanik of New York—are working to dismantle the rule of law.
It's almost like House Republicans have something to hide and both Cheney and her former counterparts—working at cross purposes—know it. After all, Cheney still had a seat at the GOP leadership table as Jan. 6 unfolded.