House select committee says Steve Bannon’s contempt charge is a warning to witnesses refusing to comply
Thomas Roy Vinson and his wife Lori Vinson told investigators they entered the Capitol to peacefully express their views but left after witnessing a person start hitting the door of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s office with a stanchion.
In a court filing ahead of sentencing for misdeameanor charges on Friday, defence attorney Christopher Wiest requested probation so that Mr Vinson could travel to Washington DC to comply with requests to testify before Congress.
“Mr Vinson, through Counsel, has been approached by the House Select Committee on January 6, to testify regarding the events he witnessed on January 6, 2021,” Mr Wiest wrote.
“The restriction by the Court on travel to DC has resulted in his inability to agree to do so, and, continuing his pattern of cooperation, we also respectfully request that he be permitted to travel to DC solely for that purpose.”
Neither Mr Wiest nor a spokesman for the House committee responded to The Independent’s request for comment by the time of publication.
Mr and Mrs Vinson, both of Kentucky, were among the first Capitol rioters to fully cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Ms Vinson was fired as a nurse after posting images from the day to Facebook, but told local broadcaster 14 News that she “would do it again tomorrow”.
Their eyewitness accounts of rioters attacking the office of Mr McConnell could be of interest to the 6 January committee, which has focused on subpoenaing some of Donald Trump’s key allies, including Steve Bannon.
The House Panel on Tuesday voted to formally approve a criminal contempt report to hold Mr Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena. He could be jailed for up to a year if convicted.
Chair Bennie Thompson said the contempt charge was a warning to other witnesses who don’t cooperate with 6 January Committee.
“For folks watching at home this evening, I want you to think about something. What would happen to you if you did what Mr Bannon is doing,” Mr Thompson said.
“If you are thinking of following the path Mr Bannon has gone down, you are on notice that this is what you’ll face,” he added.
If Mr Vinson is sentenced to prison time on Friday, as several Captiol rioters charged with similar offences already have, he will be unable to testify to the committee.
According to the Department of Justice’s criminal complaint, Ms Vinson said they were “let in” to the US Capitol on 6 January and were among the first 100 people inside.
“They also witnessed a person hitting a door with US Senator Mitch McConnell’s name on it with a crowd control stanchion three times,” the criminal complaint said.
“After seeing that, they decided to leave. Thomas Vinson stated he also saw a person throw a water bottle and said they should not do that.”