Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said that “without a doubt” the recent indictment of Trump ally Steve Bannon will sway others into cooperating with the select committee investigating Jan. 6. “Now witnesses see that if they don’t don’t cooperate, if they don’t fulfill their lawful duty when subpoenaed, that they too may be prosecuted.”
The chair of the House Intelligence Committee and member of the committee investigating Jan. 6 told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Sunday that he sees the indictment of Bannon as a “very positive” step. “I view this as an early test of whether democracy was recovering,” he said. “If our law is to mean anything it has to be applied equally. And so I’m very glad that Justice Department has moved forward in this fashion.”
Last month, the committee voted to refer contempt of Congress charges against Bannon to the Department of Justice when he failed to comply with a subpoena and did not show for his scheduled testimony before the committee. On Friday, a federal grand jury charged him with one contempt count for his refusal to appear for a deposition and another for his refusal to produce documents requested by the committee in the subpoena. Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, on Friday also failed to appear for testimony and has thus far defied the committee’s subpoena. Regarding Meadows, Schiff said that not showing up “pretty much forces our hand” and promised the committee would “move quickly,” implying a criminal referral is likely forthcoming.
Speaking about Trump and his cronies’ flagrant disregard for the committee’s legal powers, Schiff said that Trump ran a “lawless presidency” and that he and his ilk believe they are “above the law.”
“The Republican party, at the top levels — that is Donald Trump and those around him — seem to feel that they’re above the law and free to thwart it,” Schiff said. “And there’s something admirable about thumbing your nose at the institutions of our government.”
Todd later asked Schiff if the committee would consider offering witnesses limited immunity in exchange for their testimonies. “[Rep.] Jamie Raskin, who is also a member of your committee, has said he’s open to the idea of limited immunity in exchange for this testimony, even for Mr. Bannon. Are you there?” Todd asked.
“You know, it’ll have to be made … on a case-by-case basis,” Schiff replied. He said that he would be open to granting limited immunity, as long as it doesn’t undermine the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute criminal conduct. “I certainly wouldn’t want to prevent the Justice Department from prosecuting people who committed criminal conduct — for example, on January 6th — by giving them immunity to testify before our committee,” Schiff hedged.
However, Schiff said the committee should “carefully” consider immunity in the cases of “certain specific witnesses.” “As that kind of immunity makes it very difficult to prosecute, not just them, but sometimes others, we need to think about it very carefully,” the congressman said.