The charges stem from Bannon’s failure to comply with a subpoena from the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Bannon Faces Contempt Charges
Former White House advisor Steve Bannon surrendered to the FBI Monday morning on two contempt of Congress charges.
Bannon, who previously served as an aide to former President Donald Trump, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday after he defied a subpoena to testify and provide documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“I don’t want anybody to take their eye off the ball…We’re taking down the Biden regime every day,” he said when briefly addressing the media as he turned himself in to the FBI’s Washington, D.C. field office.
Bannon made his first court appearance Monday afternoon, though he did not make a plea and was released from custody. His arraignment is set for Thursday morning.
If convicted, each count of contempt carries a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Contempt of Congress charges are incredibly rare. According to The Washington Post, only three such charges have been brought in the last three decades.
Ongoing Legal Battle
While the proceedings against Bannon will likely be quick, they are only one part of what is shaping up to be a lengthy battle over executive privilege.
Trump has repeatedly attempted to block the Jan. 6 committee from obtaining requested documents, testimonies, and other materials under the argument that they are protected by executive privilege — which he asserts still applies to him and his former aides.
In addition to provoking a fraught legal back-and-forth over key records, the former president’s efforts have additionally prompted multiple previous top officials to refuse to comply with subpoenas.
Some top Democrats have said that Bannon’s indictment will encourage other witnesses to cooperate, but at the same time, it has reinvigorated Trump’s allies in Congress.
While some have threatened payback if Republicans take the House in 2022, others have also weaponized support of Bannon as the latest show of loyalty for Trump, effectively centering the matter as a key issue for the midterm elections.
On Saturday, Trump himself released a statement condemning all Republicans who either voted for the infrastructure bill or the contempt charges against Bannon, listing each by name and promising to back anyone who primaried them in the upcoming elections.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (NPR)
Justice Department Sues Texas Alleging Voter Discrimination Over Redistricting Maps
The agency accused Texas Republicans of intentionally redrawing district maps to weaken the votes of minority populations that have driven the state’s growth over the last decade.
DOJ Files Lawsuit
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Texas on Monday arguing that the state’s plans to redraw voting maps discriminate against Black and Latino voters while giving more power to white people.
The DOJ specifically claims that the redistricting maps — which are done after every census — violate the Voting Rights Act (VRA) by essentially weakening the influence of voters of color who have driven population growth in Texas.
According to the lawsuit, 95% of the state’s four million-person population growth over the last decade has been attributed to minorities, and specifically Latinos. That has resulted in Texas being the only state to gain two new congressional seats in the last census.
The DOJ, however, alleges that Texas Republicans have given those two new seats to predominantly white communities and preserved seats held by white GOP members. On top of that, it claims Republican leaders have also intentionally crafted the state’s maps to dilute the increased strength of minorities’ voices in the voting process that should have come from the demographic shifts.
The state has achieved this, the suit says, either by eliminating minority districts altogether or redrawing lines in a way that concentrates power for white voters.
For example, the agency outlines multiple instances where the districts were redrawn so groups of minority voters in urban areas will now be counted in the same districts as rural, predominantly white areas to ensure white voters are the majority.
In one instance, the DOJ maintains that Texas “surgically excised” minority communities from the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth area by grouping their neighborhoods with heavily white rural counties, including some that were “more than a hundred miles away.”
In another, the agency argues that the state “intentionally eliminated a Latino electoral opportunity” in a West Texas-based congressional district where courts had previously found VRA violations in the last two redistricting cycles.
“This is not the first time Texas has acted to minimize the voting rights of its minority citizens,” the complaint states. “Decade after decade, Texas has enacted redistricting plans that violate the Voting Rights Act.”
Other Litigation & Gerrymandering Concerns
Beyond redistricting, the Justice Department’s new lawsuit marks the second complaint it has filed against Texas over voting rights in the last few weeks.
Last month, the agency sued the state over its new restrictive voting law, arguing that it will disenfranchise “voters with limited English proficiency, voters with disabilities, elderly voters, members of the military” deployed abroad.
But this latest complaint goes beyond Texas, marking the first legal action the DOJ has taken to challenge redistricting maps since states began redrawing them after the latest census.
According to FiveThirtyEight, 18 states have now finalized their new congressional maps this year, and some are already showing signs of gerrymandering.
“Some of the most heavily biased maps this cycle have been enacted by Republicans in North Carolina and Ohio,” the outlet reported, though it noted that both states have already been sued for racial or partisan gerrymandering.
Those challenges, however, are unlikely to play out before the midterm elections in November when control of Congress is in play.
The same goes for the department’s case against Texas, though the agency has asked a federal court to block the state from holding its upcoming March primaries using the challenged maps.
Even if those matters are resolved, as The New York Times reported, restrictive voting laws implemented by Republicans in key battleground states “could be in effect for multiple election cycles before the courts decide whether they are constitutional.”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Texas Tribune) (NPR)
Chris Cuomo Had Large Role Advising Brother Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Documents Show
The records show that the CNN anchor used his media connections to find out information on the former governor’s accusers and pressed to have more influence over the PR response for the scandal.
New Details on Chris Cuomo’s Involvement in Response to Allegations
Documents released Monday by the New York attorney general show that CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was far more involved than previously known in helping defend his brother, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), against sexual misconduct allegations.
According to the documents, the younger Cuomo actively pushed to take on a larger role in creating his brother’s defense and influencing PR strategy in addition to offering to draft statements for the then-governor denying misconduct.
“Please let me help with the prep,” the anchor wrote in a text to the former governor’s top staffer, Melissa DeRosa. In another text, he also told DeRosa that he needed “all the best facts” for “reporters.”
Perhaps the most alarming information from the records was that Chris Cuomo used his media “sources” and “other journalists” to look into the women who accused his brother of sexual misconduct and keep tabs on other reporters pursuing stories about the matter.
For example, at one point, he spoke to a friend about allegations made by a woman who accused the former governor of inappropriately touching her at a wedding and ran down a tip that she was lying.
The younger Cuomo additionally fielded requests from DeRosa asking him for “intel” on an investigative piece Ronan Farrow was writing. He also pursued DeRosa’s appeal that he leverage his sources to find out if more women were going to come forward.
Chris Cuomo told to investigators he had never manipulated his coverage of his brother or spun other journalists to benefit him, but these new revelations still emphasize how he used his position in a manner contrary to journalistic standards and practices while simultaneously downplaying his actions to the public.
The anchor has previously discussed his role in helping the former governor on his show, though he has repeatedly stated that he did not work with his brother in any official capacity.
In August, shortly after the governor resigned, Chris Cuomo acknowledged that he talked with his brother’s aides until CNN directed him to stop doing so in May, but told viewers “I’m not an advisor, I’m a brother.”
“I was there to listen and offer my take,” he said, even adding, “I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation.”
On Monday, he hosted his show as usual with no mention of the information, which he has yet to comment on as of Tuesday afternoon.
However, in a statement Monday, CNN said it would conduct a “thorough review” of the documents.
“We will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days,” the network added.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (USA Today) (The Washington Post)
House Votes To Censure Rep. Gosar, Remove Him From Committees Over AOC Video
Gosar remained defiant in remarks delivered on the floor where he defended the video and refused to apologize.
Republicans Stay Defiant Amid Censure Debate
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Az.) and remove him from his committees after he tweeted an anime video last week that showed him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)
The video, which has since been removed by Gosar, was a parody of the popular anime show “Attack on Titan.”
At one point in the clip, Gosar, along with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Co.), are seen battling and then killing a titan version of Ocasio-Cortez.
That post garnered widespread backlash, but Gosar continued to defend it and refused to apologize.
During the heated debate leading up to Wednesday’s vote, the lawmaker again expressed no regret and remained defiant.
“I rise today to address and reject the mischaracterization and accusations from many in this body that the cartoon from my office is dangerous or threatening. It was not,” he said. “I reject the false narrative categorically.”
“I do not espouse violence toward anyone. I never have. It was not my purpose to make anyone upset,” he continued. He then went on to insist the video was just a rebuke of President Joe Biden’s immigration policy and compared himself to Alexander Hamilton.
Many Republican leaders — who have largely refused to condemn the video — also defended Gosar and dismissed the post as a joke.
While some said they do not condone violence, few members of the party criticized the lawmaker. Rather, most focused their attacks on Democrats, arguing that they were abusing their power and silencing conservatives.
Democrats and Ocasio-Cortez Condemn Incitement of Violence
Democrats slammed Republicans’ continued refusal to reprimand Gosar. They said there must be consequences and that they were forced to act because his party would not.
Many also argued that they must speak out against actions that could incite the kind of violence that unfolded during the Jan. 6 insurrection. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), for instance, described the situation as “an emergency” that amounted to “violence against women” and “workplace harassment.”
“When a member uses his or her national platform to encourage violence, tragically, people listen,” she said, adding that “depictions of violence can foment actual violence, as witnessed by this chamber on Jan. 6, 2021.”
The Speaker additionally noted that there are legal implications for Gosar’s video because it amounted to a threat against a member of Congress, which is a criminal offense.
Ocasio-Cortez echoed the sentiments expressed by Pelosi during her speech on the floor.
“What I believe is unprecedented is for a member of House leadership of either party to be unable to condemn incitement of violence against a member of this body,” she said. “It is sad. It is a sad day in which a member who leads a political party in the United States of America cannot bring themselves to say that issuing a depiction of murdering a member of Congress is wrong.”
“What is so hard about saying this is wrong?” she continued. “It’s pretty cut and dry. Does anyone in this chamber find this behavior acceptable?”
“Our work here matters. Our example matters. There is meaning in our service. And as leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country.”
Ultimately, the vast majority of House Republicans voted against the resolution to censure Gosar. Only Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Il.) supported the measure, which passed 223 to 207.
While removing Gosar from his committees effectively takes away a major platform for him to effect legislation, the censure is basically just a public condemnation. Still, the move is significant because it represents the first time in more than a decade that a member of the House has been censured and only the 24th instance in American history.
Gosar, for his part, appeared to be unmoved by the decision. Just an hour after the vote, the lawmaker retweeted a post praising him that also included the same video of him killing Ocasio-Cortez.