Democrats and other critics of the old President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse Freedom Caucus Elects Rep. Scott Perry As New President Meadows ‘Between A Rock And A Hard Space’ With Trump, Jan. 6 Panel On The Money – Biden Closes Infrastructure Week MORE celebrated when criminal charges were laid against Stephen Bannon late last week.
But the political downside of Bannon’s pursuit is becoming clearer by the day.
There is no guarantee that the underlying objective of the prosecution – forcing Bannon to cooperate with the House committee investigating the January 6 insurgency – will work.
Bannon might ultimately prefer the risk of a fairly short prison sentence and the martyrdom it would confer on him from Trump supporters, rather than testifying.
Even if he were to cooperate, the question then becomes whether the audience will learn anything more overwhelming than what they already know about Bannon and his former boss.
After all, Bannon said on his podcast the day before the riot that “hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” And Trump’s central role in inciting the insurgency was so blatant that he became the first president in American history to be impeached twice.
Importantly, the criminal case gave Bannon the greatest platform he has enjoyed in years.
The news that he was indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress on Friday was the main story on the websites of the New York Times and other prominent news organizations.
Bannon’s initial court appearance on Monday was another media circus, with news broadcasts showing footage of Trump’s former chief White House strategist lambasting the accusation and President BidenJoe Biden Biden Reaffirms Commitment to ‘One China’ Policy in Taiwan in Appeal with Xi Biden Raises Human Rights with Chinese Xi in Four-Hour Meeting Biden and Xi Hold a “frank” discussion in the midst of strong tensions MORE. Bannon broadcast his comments live outside the courtroom on the social network Gettr, a favorite of pro-Trump conservatives.
On Thursday, Bannon will have another bite of the publicity cherry if, as expected, he is officially arraigned.
Bannon “reveled in it. He loves it, ”said Allan Lichtman, professor of history at American University, who compared the former Trump adviser’s zeal for media attention to that of another associate of the former president. , Pierre RogerRoger Jason Stone DeSantis launches police force to crack down on election crimes Stone says he will run for governor of Florida if DeSantis doesn’t audit White House orders release of Trump files to committee of 6 January MORE.
Bannon’s ardor for the spotlight is well known throughout Washington, including among journalists who find him more personally engaging than his sinister public figure suggests.
He had appeared to be a marginalized figure after Trump disowned him in early 2018 following the publication of a damaging book by journalist Michael Wolff. But Bannon has finally regained Trump’s good graces, conferring with him after the then-president’s election defeat last year.
Now, seeking details of what exactly was said between Trump and Bannon, the former aide’s opponents have put him back in the center of the political scene. From there, he’s sure to amplify Trump’s fictions about voter fraud, among other things.
But does all of this mean that Democrats and Merrick garlandMerrick Garland Chairman of the Flight Attendants Union: Air rage incidents creating ‘hostile environment’ Defiant Bannon warns of ‘hell offense’ for Biden Southwest employee hospitalized after suspected passenger assault MOREIs the Department of Justice (DOJ) wrong to have filed a complaint against him?
The DOJ probably wouldn’t pursue the case if it didn’t trust the conviction. Announcing the indictment, Garland said he was delivering on his promise to “show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law.”
Allowing Trump and Bannon to thumb their noses at a Congressional investigation into the serious attack on Capitol Hill was simply unacceptable to most Democrats and many other Trump critics.
Rep. Bennie thompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonMeadows ‘Between a Rock and Hard Space’ with Trump, Jan. 6 Defiant Bannon Panel Warns of ‘Hell’s Misdemeanor’ for Biden Steve Bannon surrenders after contempt indictment Congress PLUS (Miss D) and Liz cheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn Cheney The Wyoming GOP votes to no longer recognize Cheney as a Republican. (R-Wyo.), The January 6 committee chair and vice-chair said in a statement that the indictment “should send a clear signal to anyone who thinks they can ignore the select committee or try to block our investigation: no one is above the law.
Some prominent Democrats were even more adamant.
The indictment showed “that even Donald Trump’s insurgent allies are not above the law and the US justice system is back to business,” said Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben Raskin Subpoena Shows Jan. 6 panel’s attention to Trump’s plans Overnight Energy & Environment – Brought to you by American Clean Power – Democrats prepare to grill oil executives Merkley, Warren and Markey sounding the alarm on the supply of ‘dirty’ hydrogen in the climate agreement PLUS (D-Md.) Tweeted.
“Welcome to the rule of law,” said the representative. Eric swalwellEric Michael Swalwell Mo Brooks says he would be “proud” if the staff helped organize the rally on Jan. 6, the GOP takes victory in return from the Congress baseball game. (D-Calif.) Tweeted when news of Bannon’s indictment broke.
But, for Democrats, the problem is that the enemy – Bannon and the GOP – also gets a vote.
In Bannon’s case, that means a quintessentially pugnacious rhetoric outside the courthouse about how he’s “bringing down the Biden regime” and how his criminal prosecution is going to be “hell’s offense” for Biden, Garland and others.
More concretely, the door is now open to future use of the same process by Republicans any time they regain control of Congress – an outcome that looks set to happen in a year.
Some Trump loyalists are already salivating at the prospect.
“Joe Biden has gutted executive privilege,” the representative said. Jim jordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMeadows is the subject of an increasingly prominent Jan. 6 sneak peek: Biden administration faces rising inflation Republicans are getting their campaign mojo back – and it’s Bush, not Trump PLUS (R-Ohio) tweeted on Friday.
Referring to key Biden associates, he added: “There are a lot of Republicans eager to hear testimony from Ron klainRon Klain Biden’s aides praise Harris after CNN critical report Spike inflation gives Manchin ammo Will Supreme Court accept Biden’s vaccine “workaround” as constitutional? FOLLOWING and Jake sullivanJake Sullivan Biden raises human rights with Chinese Xi in four-hour meeting Biden and Xi hold “frank” discussion amid high tensions. Defense and National Security Overnight – Brought to you by Boeing – Major Russian weapons test stirs tensions MORE when we get home.
Speaker of the Republican House Conference Élise StefanikElise Marie Stefanik Virginia emerges as point zero in the battle for majority in the House. (RN.Y.) complained, also on Twitter, that during the former president obamaBarack Hussein ObamaEquilibrium / Sustainability – Presented by Southern Company – COVID-19 Kills Snow Leopards at US Zoo David Axelrod Calls Rittenhouse Judge a “Defense Lawyer on the Bench” Manchin Ready to Make or Break the Pledge climate change from Biden PLUS, both former attorney general Eric HolderEric Himpton Holder Ben Affleck, Tracee Ellis Ross join anti-gerrymandering fundraiser with Clinton, Holder North Carolina Legislature approves new US House card and former IRS official Lois Lerner were found in contempt of Congress and “no charges or arrests have been made.”
Even some Republicans critical of Trump are wondering if the precedents being set will have bad consequences later.
“This is dangerous ground,” said Rick Tyler, a GOP strategist who has been critical of Trump for years. “It’s tit for tat. When you have power, you don’t use it to rule, you use it to get revenge on your political enemies.
Others, including Lichtman, respond by saying Democrats need to show some determination in their pursuit of figures like Bannon.
“One of the faults of Democrats is that they don’t have a lot of backbone,” he said. “Republicans are ruthless, they will do whatever it takes.”
Democrats are now trying to take a page from that game manual.
But the risks are higher than they might have imagined.
The Memo is a column published by Niall Stanage.