Biden says those who refuse to testify in Jan 6 probe should be prosecuted

A photo from Jan 6, 2021, showing supporters of then President Donald Trump storming the US Capitol building in Washington. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Joe Biden said on Friday (Oct 15) that the US Justice Department should prosecute people who defy subpoenas to testify before a congressional select committee probing the deadly Jan 6 assault on the Capitol.

"I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable," Mr Biden said, referring to the United States House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the riot.

Asked whether he believed the Justice Department should prosecute, Mr Biden told reporters: "I do, yes."

The committee plans to vote on Tuesday on adopting a contempt of Congress report against Mr Steve Bannon, a long-time adviser to former president Donald Trump who has not complied with the committee's subpoena.

Mr Trump has urged former aides to refuse to cooperate, citing executive privilege, which legal experts in turn dispute.

If the committee approves the contempt case against Mr Bannon, it would go to a full House vote. From there, the Justice Department and Attorney-General Merrick Garland would decide whether to pursue prosecution.

In response to Mr Biden's remarks on Friday, a Justice Department spokesman told ABC News that the department "will make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law".

Hundreds of Mr Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building on Jan 6 in an unsuccessful attempt to overturn his election defeat to Mr Biden.

Four people died in the violence, more than 100 police officers were injured and four officers in the crowd that day later died of suicide.

The committee has subpoenaed other officials, including former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, Mr Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and former Defence Department official Kash Patel.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.