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Hoyer: Withholding Information on 1/6 Betrays the American People and Our Constitutional Democracy

WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this afternoon in support of the Rule providing for consideration of a resolution to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Below is a transcript of his remarks and a link to the video:  
Click here for the full video.  
“I thank the Chairman of the Rules Committee for yielding.

“Mr. Speaker, this resolution ought to be supported, and the underlying action that the rule provides for ought to be supported by every Member of this House that believes that this House has a constitutional responsibility of oversight, of protecting the Constitution, the democracy in which we are all privileged to live, and the integrity of this House. Oversight is not possible for this House if, in fact, it cannot request, and indeed, demand, the testimony of those who have information on which this House, the People’s House, the protector of our democracy and our Constitution, need to protect our democracy.

“This rule and the underlying action for which it provides is essential.

“And Mr. Speaker, if I were trying a case, I would offer as Exhibit A, a statement by the man who would be dictator, Donald J. Trump, who absurdly and, of course, incorrectly says, ‘the insurrection took place on November 3, Election Day. January 6 was the protest.’ My view is that man, Donald J. Trump, protests too much, because I believe that he recruited, incited, and deployed an insurrectionist mob to threaten this institution, its Members, its constitutional responsibility in the electoral process of the Presidency of the United States, and democracy itself.

“Mr. Speaker, the events of January 6 exposed threats to our democracy that must be fully understood and addressed, a weighty responsibility that falls to the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on the Capitol – the bipartisan committee. I want to thank Chairman Thompson, Vice Chair Cheney, and all those serving on this Committee for their commitment to seeking the truth and defending our democracy. And to giving sufficient information to our public, our constituents, our people, that they know this [Trump’s tweet], to be a stark and dangerous lie. The Committee is doing a diligent job at finding the truth. This task should not have fallen to the Members of the Select Committee, this subpoena and contempt. We should have been able to come together, Democrats and Republicans, to create a bipartisan Commission, in the style of the 9/11 Commission, recognizing that such consequential, transformative attacks require us to come together as one nation, indivisible, to seek answers and identify solutions to make our country safer.

“Sadly, however, we have come to a place where one party is so focused on defending the indefensible that this institution cannot act as Americans, but rather, are relegated to acting simply as partisans. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, I’m heartened to see Democrats and some courageous Republicans working together to uncover the truth of what happened that day. These Republican Members are exhibiting what President Kennedy would call ‘profiles in courage’.

In order for this Committee to perform its work in full, indeed, any Committee of the Congress to perform its work in full, ultimately, it has to be able to get the information that it needs from those who know the information it needs. It must hear testimony from all those who may have information regarding the events of January 6, in this particular case. That's why we provided the Committee with this subpoena authority.

“Steve Bannon's refusal to appear, even when subpoenaed, is a demonstration of his contempt not only for Congress but his contempt of the Constitution, and his contempt for the law. It is unacceptable and obstructive to this process of uncovering the full story of that day's attack on the Capitol. He must be found in contempt, not as a Democrat, not as a Republican, but on behalf of this institution and the people that we represent. Withholding information on the events of that day from the Committee is no less than an act of betrayal of the American people and of our Constitutional democracy. The American people need to understand what led to the violent insurrection that sought to overturn our election and led to the deaths of multiple police officers and others. Although as I said, exhibit A: the former President's comments should be proof in and of itself. The American people need to understand what led to the deaths of those police officers and the placing at risk of the democratic process of electing a President of the United States. We need to understand, Mr. Speaker, how this could have happened, why it happened, and what ought to be done to hold the perpetrators accountable and prevent the events of the day from being repeated.

“That appears to be the fear on the Floor of this House today: accountability, responsibility, consequences. In refusing to appear before the [Committee], Mr. Bannon has made it clear where his loyalties lie. He’s chosen Trump first and America last. Not America first. Trump first, America last. Trump first, our Constitution last. Trump first, our democracy last. Trump first, the House of the People, this House of Representatives, last. And he will have to answer for that choice. This is a moment of reckoning for our country; reckoning with hard truths and painful memories, reckoning that above all requires truth and understanding. Can't we, Mr. Speaker, in a bipartisan way, summon the courage to look the truth in the eye and vote the truth? We cannot allow anyone to shirk their responsibility to share that truth and help the American people understand.

“Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I urge the House to vote yes on this resolution, and to vote yes on the citation for contempt so that Chairman Thompson, Vice Chairwoman Cheney, and the Members of the Select Committee can make it clear to Mr. Bannon, and to all others summoned to testify, that they will seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as they determine what we must do to protect our beloved country, our beloved Constitution, and our beloved democracy. And I yield back the balance of my time.”