Schiff: Criminal contempt charges possible for noncooperation in Jan. 6 probe

The head of the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday warned that those who refuse to cooperate in Congress's investigation into the Capitol attack of Jan. 6 could face charges of criminal contempt.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party Bannon eyed as key link between White House, Jan. 6 riot MORE (D-Calif.), who's also a member of the select committee investigating the insurrection, said that while investigators don't expect a "blank check" from the Biden administration's Justice Department, agency officials have shown signs that they'll be much more cooperative in pursuing congressional probes than they were under the Trump administration.

"So far what we've seen from the Biden administration has been very encouraging," Schiff said during a press breakfast in Washington sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

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With that in mind, Schiff suggested that those who defy the panel's subpoenas might face charges of contempt.

"Certainly there will be some who will not be cooperating with us, and I'm not referring to the current administration, but members of the past administration. We have to anticipate that," he said.

"And ... until we have passage of the Protect Our Democracy Act, there'll still be opportunities [for those people] to draw things out in court. So that is a concern. But we may have additional tools now that we didn't before, including a Justice Department that may be willing to pursue criminal contempt when people deliberately flout compulsory process."

Introduced earlier in the week, the Protect Our Democracy Act aims to rein in executive power after four years of Democrats accusing former President TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE of abusing his authority. Among its central provisions, the bill would expedite congressional subpoenas, in an effort to prevent administration stonewalling, and put new limits on presidential pardons.

Schiff declined to indicate which witnesses to the events of Jan. 6 the panel intends to summon as part of the investigation.

"But," he quickly added, "we've also made it very clear that no one is off limits."