Representative Ted Lieu lashed out on Saturday after the Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to follow President Joe Biden‘s advice to prosecute Trump political adviser Steven Bannon and others who defy subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot.
Biden said Friday that he “hopes” the committee holds former Trump aides accountable and the DOJ should prosecute those who refuse the panel’s subpoenas. Determined to strike an independent tone, the department quickly made clear that it would not be influenced by the White House.
“The Department of Justice will make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop,” DOJ spokesperson Anthony Coley said in a statement.
Lieu, a frequent critic of former President Donald Trump, expressed frustration at the slow-moving process of enforcing congressional subpoenas on members of Trump’s inner circle.
“CONGRESS SHOULD NOT NEED TO DEPEND ON ANOTHER BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT TO ENFORCE OUR SUBPOENAS. PERIOD. FULL STOP. We need to pass the inherent contempt bill by [Reps. Jamie Raskin, Madeleine Dean, Joe Neguse, Val Demings and David Cicilline] and me. Just like courts, we have our own contempt authority,” the California Democrat tweeted.
Lieu reintroduced the Inherent Contempt Power Act in April, which would enable Congress to independently enforce subpoenas and other congressional actions by directly levying penalties against those refusing to comply.
“In the last four years, we encountered an administration that repeatedly stonewalled Congress, refusing to testify, provide documents and even respond to letters—hindering Congress’ ability to conduct critical investigations on behalf of the American people,” Lieu said in a statement. “Congress has an inherent ability to hold senior officials and private citizens in contempt if they do not comply with congressional subpoenas.”
The January 6 committee has issued subpoenas for information and testimony from Bannon and other Trump advisers, including Mark Meadows, Kash Patel and Dan Scavino. Trump’s attorney argues that the records are protected by executive privilege and has instructed the advisers to refuse to comply.
The committee warned Thursday that Bannon will be held in criminal contempt for not complying with its subpoena. The other advisers have been allowed further time to comply.
“The Select Committee will use every tool at its disposal to get the information it seeks, and witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed,” Representative Bennie Thompson, chair of the committee, said in a statement.
Newsweek reached out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for comment.