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.