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It is a win-win from Bannon’s perspective

It is a win-win from Bannon’s perspective

Normally, the prospect of going to jail is repulsive to most people – even those guilty of crimes.  In politics, however, that is not always the case.  Many political figures and activists consider going to jail for “the cause” as a badge of honor.

How many times has Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton been hauled off to the hoosgow?  More recently, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty was arrested for trying to disrupt an official Senate meeting.  (Hmmm.  I do not recall her being called an insurrectionist.  Nor were those Democrats who conducted that sit-in to disrupt the workings of Congress.  But I digress.)

There are thousands of American citizens who have been locked up for blocking highways, disrupting businesses or declaring parts of our American cities to be “autonomous zones.”  (hmmm. No insurrectionist talk or investigation there, either.  But again, I digress.)

Now we have political gadfly Steve Bannon.  He has thumbed his nose at Nancy Pelosi’s politically motivated Select Committee on the Capitol Hill Riot.  He is at least publicly claiming that his conversations with then-President Trump are covered by Executive Privilege.

There are two problems based on two unsettled issues.  First, does Trump, as a former President have the power to declare executive privilege.  Those on the left – meaning virtually all those you see on CNN and MSNBC – say “no.”   

President Biden, of course, will not extend the privilege for Trump – although he could.  On principle, he probably should – to protect the concept of executive privilege.  But this is politics – so Biden refuses to do so.  Politics generally trumps principle.

The second issue is whether Bannon’s conversations are eligible for executive privilege.  During the period being investigated, Bannon was not a member of the White House staff, the Executive Branch of government or one of Trump’s attorneys. 

Of all those being potentially subpoenaed, we can at least say that Bannon has the weakest case.  That means he, more than any of them, could face jail.  The Select Committee has already sent a referral to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for criminal prosecution.  But will they prosecute?

Biden once again demonstrated why he is kept from making impromptu comments in public.  He told a reporter in passing that the DOJ should prosecute Bannon.  This from a President who swore over and over that he would never try to influence the DOJ.  Biden’s gaffe brought an unusually strong rebuff from the DOJ, which said that THEY – and only THEY – will judge matters of the law and the evidence – “period … full stop.”

At this moment, the next step is in the hands of Attorney General Merrick Garland.  For the pitchfork carriers on the left, there is no question that the DOJ must indict, convict and jail Bannon.  They would like more, but being hanged, drawn and quartered has gone out of vogue a few centuries ago.

For the DOJ, however, the issue is not so clear.  There is a general practice – almost a policy – not to prosecute folks involved in government – especially if the person is of the opposite political party.  Garland has expressed fears that such prosecutions tend to look political.  Well duh!  And that they often enhance the power and stature of the prosecuted – making them a martyr to the cause.

It would be surprising if Garland did not proceed with prosecution in view of the enormous pressure to do so. He is already under criticism for the charges and sentences being handed down on the Capitol Hill rioters.  Those on the left are looking for charges that conform to the insurrection/sedition narratives – rather than repute them.

Garland also knows that if he does not prosecute Bannon, the ability of the Select Committee to command the appearances of any of those subpoenaed – or to be subpoenaed, possibly including Trump – will end.

From Bannon’s viewpoint, he wins no matter what Garland decides to do.  If the Attorney General decides not to prosecute, Bannon is a hero to his fan club.  If he is put on trial and wins acquittal, Bannon wins again.

And if Bannon is convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of one-year in jail and a $100,000 fine.  And that is a maximum, not likely what he would actually get. He can easily afford any fine the government throws at him and time in jail will just enhance his image as a fighter and martyr.  By many, he will be considered a prisoner of political war.  A few months in jail would enable him to write his memoirs. 

But there is also a timing factor.  How fast will the wheels of justice turn?  If this was a civil matter, it could easily take years.  Criminal cases a bit swifter but can still be delayed by months and years.  If you do not understand that, just note how the Parkland shooter has just pleaded guilty in his court case after FOUR YEARS.  And that case was a slam-dunk.

To the point, Bannon may not be going to jail before the 2022 election – and that has relevancy.  Pelosi wants the preordained results of the Select Committee to be out before the midterm elections.  That is the entire reason she created it and stacked it.  She needs to get it done before the 2022 midterm elections because some of her panel members may lose their seats – especially Congressmen Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney. 

Pelosi’s claim to wanting “to get to the bottom of things” are patently false.  The congressional committee cannot do anything or investigate anything more then is being done by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies – which are getting to the bottom of things.  In fact, the Committee can only do much less.  They cannot bring criminal charges. They cannot conduct an in-depth investigation – only hold hearings to play to public opinion – the court-of-public-opinion.

Being pursued by the Democrats is a win-win for Bannon largely because of his personality.  He is a political mercenary type.  A combatant.  He will consider doing a few months in the slammer as a credential enhancer.   He knows there will be crowds cheering when he is released – and as he goes around making public appearances.

In the meantime, it could be weeks or months before any of the potential witnesses will appear before the Select Committee unless they come forward voluntarily or do not fight a subpoena.  So far, the Committee has not issued subpoenas for former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Pentagon official Kash Patel and Trump social media chief Dan Scavino.

If my analysis of Bannon is correct, he may well be right there with Biden calling for – or in Bannon’s case, daring – Garland to prosecute him.  Regardless, the saga of Steve Bannon will be playing out for months to come.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Joseph S. Bruder

    I don’t see how Bannon wins by going to prison. Trump may benefit by trying to raise money off of it… the fine is a joke, but Bannon could rot in jail for a year. It’s also a deterrent to any of the other supporters of Trump’s coup attempt who will now think twice about defying a Congressional subpoena. The others will testify, and they now have a scapegoat who’s not before the Committee defending himself. This might not be Bannon’s only crime that gets referred to the AG. The best of both worlds is that Bannon gets accused and then points the finger back at others to take some heat off of himself (but still gets a few years in prison next to his pal Donny.)

    Bannon was also not an advisor to President Trump at the time of the coup attempt, either – unless you count colluding on a plan to overthrow the results of an election. But working for a candidate’s campaign and being an advisor to a President for a year is not a get-out-of-jail-free card forever either.

    Where do you draw the line for executive priviledge? It’s supposedly there to protect conversations between a President and his advisors. It’s not meant to shield a President or his advisors from illegal activity. I think there is a big red line between advising the President and conspiring with the President to commit crimes. A plot to overthrow the government of the US? I think that’s outside the bounds. Extortion of a Ukrainian President? Collusion with Russian “associates” of Putin? Various schemes to hide money or accept bribes? Where do you want to draw the line, Larry? How many of Trump’s crimes do you want to cover up? Biden is correct to not shield Trump from criminal activity.

    • Dan Tyree

      Trump will pardon him when he’s re-elected

      • Joseph S. Bruder

        Who will pardon Trump? It’s hard to run a campaign from a jail cell…

        • Dan Tyree

          Is he in jail? Not gonna happen asshole Your idiot president is committing treason by ignoring our laws.

          • Joseph S. Bruder

            It’s unbelieveable to hear you say that, considering how many laws Trump broke while in office.

            And which law is it you think Biden is ignoring?

          • Joseph S. Bruder

            It’s unbelievable that you would say that, given the number of laws that Trump broke, before, during, and after his term in office.

            So, which laws do you think Biden broke? Cite the laws and tell me what Biden did or didn’t do. I’d be willing to bet you can’t even come up with one.

  2. FrankstetsoN

    Interesting piece Larry, one where with the same facts, we have different opinions. And that’s OK, IMO.

    I agree, win-win. Hero or martyr to his base.

    Also, investigation is political, but not because of Pelosi alone; she did not stack the deck, your side did. She did not pick the timing, Trump did on 1/6,,

    And Biden did not gaffe or misspeak, he was wrong to speak. Flat out wrong and he said it. Haven’t heard a heartfelt apology like that for at least 4 years. Apparently you missed that part or opted not to add it.

    EP. Come on, we all know there’s too much, either side, but the grounds rules should be national security and that’s all Biden is doing. The fact it’s Trump is just icing on the cake. Maybe Trump should have thought of it before 1/6,

    We need to investigate from Capitol Police through Trump and everything in between. Further, and perhaps more important, we need to understand why these people felt so disenfranchise as to take up arms and storm the Capitol. And then we need to enfranchise these citizens to become useful participants in our vision of Democracy. That’s the more important part that neither side is pushing for. Your side wants to brush it all under the table, my side just wants to prosecute offenders and no one is addressing the disenfranchised that felt compelled to storm the walls and take Congress by force.

    • larry Horist

      Frank. Geez…. I wish you would read what I write. I have repeatedly stated that I think the rioters should get punished to the full extent of the law. I have even written that I think the shooting of Ashli Bobbit was tragic but justified — and that I thought the police should have used guns more than they did, but according the the laws over lethal use. I saw a number of times a shooting would have been legally justified. Remember the officer being squeezed by the door? But I do draw attention to the lack of police use and prosecution in all those riots where there was arson, looting, vandalism, injury and death. Would you agree that those riots were under-prosecuted? VP Harris even raised money for bail. So … you totally misrepresent me when you say that I want to brush it all under the rug. I just do not buy into the Dems claims of insurrection and the near fall of the Republic. That is just political nonsense — and shame on the media for spinning it. Your side does not just want to prosecute the criminal rioters … they want to hype the charges beyond reality. That is why they are so disappointed. I also do not see the benefit of the Select Committee. Law enforcement is investigating far more than Congressional hearing can … and they can indict, which the Select Committee cannot. Pelosi’s kangaroo committee is purely political to play to the court-of-public-opinion when they know the real court-of-law will not establish their bs. The Select Committee does more harm than good.

      • Joseph S. Bruder

        So, Larry, given the recent reporting about the meetings at the Willard Hotel (gritting teeth, trying so hard not to call it Willardgate!), do you want to reconsider your opinion that it wasn’t an insurrection, or that it wasn’t an organized attempt at overthrowing the government? How many people from Congress does it take for it to be a conspiracy? With the goal of throwing out election results and installing the candidate who lost? And does it not seem to you like Republicans are continuing that attempt even today by maintaining the Big Lie? I think this would be a good topic for a column, and I would LOVE to hear your take on it.

  1. Yeah, I guess the Weatherman and their underground group never made it to my hometown. I thought they were mostly…