Washington (AFP) -
A defiant Steve Bannon, former president Donald Trump's long-time advisor, turned himself into the FBI Monday to face charges of contempt of Congress after refusing to testify on the January 6 Capitol assault.
'This is all noise,' he said of his indictment, as he arrived at the FBI's Washington field office.
'I want you guys to stay focused on the message,' he said, promoting his 'War Room' website. 'We're taking down the Biden regime.'
On Friday a federal grand jury indicted Bannon, 67, for refusing to testify or supply documents to the House Select Committee investigating the violent attack on the US Congress by Trump supporters.
Investigators believe Bannon and other aides and advisors to Trump could have information on links between the White House and the mob that invaded the Capitol, on the day it was due to certify Joe Biden as winner of the November 2020 presidential election.
Bannon was charged with two counts of contempt, each one carrying a penalty of one month to one year in jail.
The indictment was a significant victory for the House Select Committee, which is battling efforts by Trump to use presidential privilege to block the committee from obtaining testimony and documents necessary for the probe.
'Steve Bannon's indictment should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can ignore the Select Committee or try to stonewall our investigation: no one is above the law,' said committee chair Bennie Thompson and vice chair Liz Cheney in a statement.
Bannon, who advised Trump on political tactics for years, was to appear in court via video link later Monday for an arraignment and will likely be released on bail.
- Battle over executive privilege -
Bannon was among dozens of people who have been called to testify on the violent attack aimed at shutting down Congress over Trump's baseless claims that Biden had won the election due to massive voter fraud.
The attack, during which five people died, succeeded in delaying the joint House-Senate election certification session for several hours.
The committee says it has already interviewed or obtained documents from more than 150 people, and has demanded testimony from a number of top Trump aides.
A key witness, Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows, could also face charges of contempt after refusing to be interviewed by the committee on Friday.
Bannon's and Meadows' cases could hinge on an ongoing court fight between the committee and Trump over executive privilege.
Trump is fighting the committee's request for documents from his administration now in the National Archives.
After Biden, as serving president, waived privilege over the documents, the federal court in Washington rejected Trump's challenge.
Trump has since appealed, and the case, which could go to the Supreme Court, is now focused on never-before-tested clashing privilege stances by a serving and former president.