Democrats and other critics of former President TrumpDonald Trump House Freedom Caucus Elects Rep. Scott Perry as New President Meadows ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ with Trump, Jan. 6 Panel On The Money – Biden Closes Infrastructure Week MORE held when criminal charges were filed against Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin Bannon Meadows ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ with Trump, Jan 6 Defiant Bannon panel warns of ‘misdemeanor from hell’ for Biden The Hill 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Trump officials face legal consequences for challenging subpoenas MORE at the end of last week.
But the political downside of the Bannon persecution is becoming clearer by the day.
There is no guarantee that the underlying purpose of the indictment, to force Bannon to cooperate with the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, will work.
Bannon may ultimately prefer the risk of a fairly short jail sentence, and the martyrdom it would bestow on him from Trump supporters, rather than testifying.
Even if he cooperates, the question is whether the public will learn anything more damning than they already know about Bannon and his former boss.
After all, Bannon said on his podcast the day before the riots that “all hell will break loose tomorrow.” And Trump’s central role in inciting insurrection was so flagrant that he became the first president in American history to be indicted twice.
Above all, the criminal case has given Bannon the biggest platform he has enjoyed in years.
The news that he had been indicted for two counts of contempt of Congress last Friday was the headline story on the website of The New York Times and other leading news organizations.
Bannon’s initial court appearance on Monday was another media circus, with network newscasts showing images of Trump’s former chief strategist at the White House criticizing the indictment and President BidenJoe Biden Biden Reaffirms His Commitment To Taiwan’s ‘One China’ Policy In Call With Xi Biden Raises Human Rights With China’s Xi During Four-Hour Biden Meeting, Xi Holds ‘Candid’ Discussion Amid Highs tensions MORE. Bannon livestreamed his comments out of court on Gettr, a favorite among pro-Trump conservatives.
On Thursday, Bannon will get another bite of the publicity cherry if, as expected, he is formally prosecuted.
Bannon “delights in that. He loves it, ”said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University, who compared Trump’s former adviser’s zeal for media attention to another associate of the former president. Roger stoneRoger Jason Stone DeSantis Floats Police Force Formation To End Election Crimes Stone Says He Will Run For Florida Governor If DeSantis Does Not Audit White House Orders For Release Of Trump Records To The Jan.6 Committee PLUS.
Bannon’s fervor for the spotlight is well known across Washington, even among journalists who find him more personally attractive than his sinister public persona suggests.
He appeared to be a sidelined figure after Trump disowned him in early 2018 following the publication of a damaging book by journalist Michael Wolff. But Bannon eventually returned to Trump’s goodwill, conferring with him in the wake of the then-president’s electoral defeat last year.
Now, searching for details of exactly what was said between Trump and Bannon, the former adviser’s adversaries have brought him back to the center of the political stage. From there, it will surely amplify Trump’s fictions about voter fraud, among other things.
But does all that mean that Democrats and Merrick garlandMerrick Garland Flight Attendant Union President: Air Rage Incidents Creating ‘Hostile Environment’ Defiant Bannon Warns Of ‘Misdemeanor From Hell’ For Hospitalized Biden Southwest Employee Following Alleged Assault By Passenger MOREDepartment of Justice, was it wrong to bring the case against you?
The DOJ presumably would not pursue the case if it did not trust the conviction. In announcing the indictment, Garland said he was keeping a promise to “show the American people by word of mouth and in deed that the department adheres to the rule of law.”
Allowing Trump and Bannon together to scoff at a Congressional investigation into the serious attack on Capitol Hill was simply unacceptable to most Democrats and many other Trump critics.
Repetitions Bennie thompsonBennie Gordon Thompson Meadows ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ With Trump, Jan 6 Defiant Bannon Panel Warns of ‘Misdemeanor From Hell’ Over Biden Steve Bannon’s Surrender Following Indictment for Contempt of Congress MORE (D-Miss.) And Liz cheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn Cheney Wyoming Republican Party votes to no longer recognize Cheney as a Republican Meadows is the subject of growing attention in Jan. 6 panel Gosar faces increasing odds of censorship on the House floor MORE (R-Wyoming), chairman and vice chair of the Jan.6 committee, respectively, said in a statement that the impeachment “should send a clear signal to anyone who believes they can ignore the Select Committee or try to obstruct our investigation: no one is above the law “.
Some prominent Democrats were even more emphatic.
The indictment showed “that even Donald Trump’s insurgent allies are not above the law and the American justice system is back on track,” said Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinSubpoenas Show Jan.6 Panel Focus On Trump Overnight Energy & Environment Plans – Presented By American Clean Power – Democrats Prepare To Roast Oil Executives Merkley, Warren And Markey Sound The Alarm Over the provision of ‘dirty’ hydrogen in the climate agreement MORE (D-Md.) He tweeted.
“Welcome back to the rule of law,” Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael Swalwell Mo Brooks says he would be “ proud ” if staff helped organize the January 6 rally. The Republican Party achieves victory in exchange for the Congressional Baseball Game. (D-Calif.) He tweeted when news of Bannon’s indictment broke.
But, for Democrats, the problem is that the enemy, Bannon and the Republican Party, also get a vote.
In Bannon’s case, that means characteristically bellicose rhetoric outside of court about how he is “bringing down the Biden regime” and how his criminal prosecution will be “the misdemeanor from hell” for Biden, Garland and others.
More substantially, the door is now open for future use of the same process by Republicans any time they regain control of Congress, an outcome that seems likely to occur within a year.
Some Trump loyalists are already salivating at the prospect.
“Joe Biden has gutted executive privilege,” said Rep. Jim jordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMeadows is the subject of growing attention in the Jan. 6 panel, Sunday shows progress: Biden’s administration faces rising inflation Republicans are back on campaign appeal, and it’s Bush, not Trump MORE (R-Ohio) tweeted on Friday.
Referring to Biden’s key aides, he added: “There are many Republicans eager to hear testimony from Ron KlainRon KlainBiden’s aides praise Harris after CNN’s critical report Rising Inflation Gives Manchin Ammunition Will the Supreme Court Accept Biden’s Vaccine ‘Alternative Solution’ as Constitutional? PLUS and Jake sullivanJake Sullivan Biden Raises Human Rights With China’s Xi During Four-Hour Meeting With Biden, Xi Holds ‘Candid’ Discussion Amid High Tensions Night Defense And National Security – Presented By Boeing – Russia’s Top Weapons Tests Fuel Up tensions MORE when we get the House back. “
Representative of the President of the Republican Conference of the House of Representatives. Elise stefanikElise Marie StefanikVirginia emerges as zero point in the battle for a majority in the House of Representatives Republicans see education as a winning issue after the successes of Virginia Republican leader says Republicans could change 60 seats next year MORE (RN.Y.) complained, also on Twitter, that during the President ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Balance / Sustainability – Presented by Southern Company – COVID-19 Kills Snow Leopards at US Zoo David Axelrod Calls Defense Attorney for Rittenhouse Judge in Dock ‘Manchin Ready to Make or Undo Promise Biden’s climate MOREthe time in office both the Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton Holder Ben Affleck, Tracee Ellis Ross join anti-gerrymandering fundraiser with Clinton, Holder North Carolina Legislature Approves New Map of US House of Representatives and former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner were found in contempt of Congress and “no charges or arrests were made.”
Even some Republican critics of Trump wonder if the precedents currently being set will have bad consequences in the future.
“This is dangerous ground,” said Rick Tyler, a Republican strategist who has been highly critical of Trump for years. “It’s an eye for an eye. When you have power, you don’t use it to govern, you use it to take revenge on your political enemies ”.
Others, like Lichtman, fight back by saying that Democrats must show some determination in their search for figures like Bannon.
“One of the flaws of the Democrats is that they don’t have much of a backbone,” he said. “The Republicans are ruthless, they will do whatever it takes.”
Democrats are trying to take a page out of that playbook now.
But the risks are greater than they imagined.
The Memo is a column reported by Niall Stanage.