Steve Bannon implies the vote to hold him in contempt of Congress is 'a set up' and that Joe Biden is behind it
Steve Bannon on Wednesday asked Matt Gaetz to explain his theory that Bannon's contempt of Congress was 'a set up', asking the Florida Congressman if he felt Joe Biden was in on the act.
Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, has refused to cooperate with the January 6 Committee, which is investigating the Capitol riot, and made no attempt to disagree with Gaetz's set-up claims. Donald Trump is also refusing to cooperate, and has told his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to do the same.
As a result, on Wednesday the House Rules Committee voted for a procedure for the House to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress – setting up a bitter floor clash for Thursday over the riot and its aftermath.
Bannon then invited the staunchly pro-Trump congressman onto his show to discuss the day's events.
'About Merrick Garland,' Bannon began, referencing the Attorney General.
'Give our audience some inside baseball.
'You're saying the Attorney General is coming out tomorrow.
'And you've said for a while this is all a set up.
'They'll do the committee one night, the rules the next afternoon; bring the AG up and then have the vote in the house.
'Walk us through - why was he coming up to Capitol Hill? What was he supposed to be doing?'
Gaetz told Bannon he believed they were witnessing a concerted attempt to persecute Bannon, saying it was a plot 'stitched together'.
'Merrick Garland's appearance before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow has been purposefully synced with the actions you saw in the Rules Committee today and the votes that will occur to hold you in contempt of Congress,' Gaetz said.
'That is all being stitched together.'
Gaetz said the administration was 'trying to create a wholly-enclosed ecosystem of the political persecution in the Congress, and the enforcement tools of the Department of Justice.'
He added: 'I have often said that one of the scariest things I have observed is that the FBI really has become the enforcement wing of the Democratic Party in a lot of circumstances.'
Gaetz said that Jeff Sessions, Trump's first Attorney General, had not been proactive enough for them - accusing him of being too favorable to the Democrats, who he believed run the Justice Department.
'Sessions went over there and got Stockholm Syndrome,' said Gaetz.
'He became sympathetic with his captors at the Justice Department.'
Gaetz also accused Garland of holding a grudge against Republicans, pointing out that Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by Mitch McConnell.
He said the system was tainted by 'Merrick Garland, possibly with an axe to grind vis a vis what went on with McConnell and the Supreme Court.'
Bannon asked Gaetz whether he believed Joe Biden was interfering in the case.
'Did you think Joe Biden gave the game away when he was on the lawn and interviewed and said yeah they ought to be prosecuted?' Bannon asked.
'Do you think he had already worked through this? Is that what you are implying?'
Gaetz replied: 'Biden has gaslit the Justice Department.
'Because now it's far more difficult for the Justice Department to throw its hands in the air and say it's all a political squabble - which actually is what it is - because Biden is out there gaslighting them to engage in political process.'
A angry debate over Bannon's behavior took place on Wednesday on Capitol Hill, with Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming testifying about the 'dark day in our history' and urging the panel not to let Bannon ignore a subpoena.
Cheney accused House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of blocking a bipartisan commission to probe the Jan. 6th Capitol riot earlier this year and intimidating fellow Republican lawmakers as a House panel conducts its probe.
'I've heard from a number of my colleagues in the last several days who say, they quote, just don't want this target on their back,' she said.
'They're just trying to keep their heads down. They don't want to anger Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, who as been especially active in attempting to block the investigation of events of Jan. 6th, despite the fact that he clearly called for such a commission the week after the attack.'
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise at a Wednesday GOP conference meeting urged Republicans to vote 'no' on the Bannon contempt finding, CNN reported, signaling the debate will be yet another partisan clash.
Cheney told fellow lawmakers on Wednesday: 'This contempt citation is crucial for our investigation.
'Witnesses cannot simply ignore congressional subpoenas, when they prefer not to attend.
'We must do everything possible to understand that dark day in our history, and to ensure to potential legislative and other actions that such a thing never happens again.'
Former President Trump came in with another statement from his Save America PAC slamming Cheney.
'Low-polling Liz Cheney (19%) is actually very bad news for the Democrats, people absolutely cannot stand her as she fights for the people that have decimated her and her father for many years,' Trump said.
'She is a smug fool, and the great State of Wyoming, together with the Republican Party, fully understands her act.
'To look at her is to despise her. Hopefully she will continue down this unsustainable path and she will soon be gone!'