Report: Bipartisan Group of Senators Wanted DOJ to Investigate Stephen Bannon

The Los Angles Times says the senators sent a letter last year calling for a criminal investigation.

Gonzales /Jarle H. Moe/Avalon via ZUMA Press

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As the president’s battles over mail voting, the US Postal Service, and COVID-19 funding dominate headlines, a significant piece of news touching on alleged criminal activity by several close Trump associates and family members flew largely under the radar.

On Friday night the Los Angeles Times reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a bipartisan criminal referral to the US Department of Justice last summer asking for investigations into Stephen Bannon, a former Trump confidant and strategist; Erik Prince, the head of a mercenary security company and the brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos; and Sam Clovis, Trump’s 2016 campaign co-chairman. According to the Times, each of those three Trump associates may have lied during congressional testimony, and both Republicans and Democrats on the committee wanted DOJ to investigate whether criminal charges would be warranted. 

The letter also raised concerns about testimony provided by Donald Trump Jr., Hope Hicks, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. While the letter didn’t directly accusing them of lying to Congress to the same degree as Bannon, Prince, and Clovis, according to the Times the committee questioned if testimony provided by these Trump associates conflicted with information provided to former special counsel Robert Mueller by Rick Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman. The testimony concerned what Trump’s son, Hicks, Kushner, and Manafort knew about a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who’d promised to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 campaign.

The Times notes that “criminal referrals from Capitol Hill have been somewhat common since Trump took office in 2017,” but this referral was “rare” because it was sent by the bipartisan leaders of one of Congress’ most stable and non-partisan committees which was conducting its own thorough review of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

It’s unclear what happened with the referral after it was sent to a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice. But a DOJ spokesperson declined to comment to the Times (and did not return an email from Mother Jones on Saturday), and given the lack of public action taken since the letter was sent in July 2019, there’s reason to think Trump’s DOJ didn’t want to look too closely at pursuing criminal cases against his close associates.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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