OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Nine Republicans in the House of Representatives voted with House Speaker and California Rep. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to hold former Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress.
Among the nine Republicans were the expected Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and they were joined by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, Anthony Gonzalez, Jaime Herrera Beutler, John Katko, Nancy Mace, Peter Meijer and Fred Upton.
Seven of the nine Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt also voted to impeach President Donald Trump, CNN reported.
Heading into Thursday’s vote, eyes were on the 10 House Republicans who had voted to impeach Trump in January and how they would come down on a criminal referral against Bannon.
While most of those House Republicans also backed Thursday’s vote, there were a handful of exceptions.
Three House Republicans that had voted in favor of Trump’s January impeachment — Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington, Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina and Rep. David Valadao of California — voted against Thursday’s criminal referral.
But two House Republicans who had voted against impeachment — Mace and Fitzpatrick — backed the move against Bannon.
Mace told reporters on Thursday that her vote was about being “consistent” and that she wants Congress to retain its subpoena power should Republicans win back the majority in 2022.
“I want the power to subpoena. When we start investigating some of the crises that are facing the Biden administration right now — whether we’re talking about the border or the botched exit from Afghanistan — there are a lot of things that I’m going to want to investigate when we’re in the majority,” the representative said.
But House Minority Leader and California Rep. Kevin McCarthy believes that the subpoena is “invalid.”
“Issuing invalid subpoena weakens our power, not if somebody votes against it,” he said at a press conference.
He said Bannon “has the right to go to the court to see if he has the executive privilege or not.”
“I don’t know if he does or not, but neither does the committee,” he said. “So, they’re weakening the power of Congress itself by issuing invalid subpoenas.”
“They are using this to target their opponents,” he said.
Former Virginia Republican Rep. Tom Davis, a chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform from 2003 to 2007, said it is possible that Congress could look weaker after the contempt vote.
“Bannon, if you let him go, what about the Exxon CEO?” he said. “I mean, what happens to the next person who’s not in government who gets a subpoena? You hold them in contempt, but nothing happens.”
“Should the Republicans take the House and start issuing subpoenas to Biden officials or even Biden sympathizers who aren’t officials, will they enforce those subpoenas?” he said.
But Chairman Bennie Thompson argued that Congress “cannot let this conduct stand.”
“It would send a signal that Mr. Bannon can act like he’s above the law and get away with it,” he said. “And it would damage this institution, the House of Representatives, by setting a dangerous precedent, giving witnesses a green light to ignore our investigative authority.”
And Rep. Cheney argued that Bannon was abusing the idea of executive privilege.
“That puts this institution’s authority at significant risk, not just here and now, but in all future investigations,” she said. “This contempt citation is crucial to our investigation. Witnesses cannot simply ignore congressional subpoenas when they prefer not to attend.”
Mississippi Republican Rep. Michael Guest argued that the committee was too partisan.
“I can only speak for myself, and there’s a difference, in my opinion, between a standing committee and a select committee,” he said. “And this is a select committee that’s established by the speaker, in which she refused to accept any Republican appointments to that committee. And so, to me, that is the difference.”