Friday, Steve Bannon, a former advisor to President Donald Trump, what? indicted out of contempt of Congress, signaling that Trump’s ability to protect himself from potentially damaging revelations relating to the January 6 attack on the capital may be waning.
The indictment is the first of its kind in almost 40 years, and it could be an important sign of things to come as Congress seeks the testimony of the 35 people and groups, including Bannon, who has so far received a subpoena.
Bannon, who what? sued along with a number of other former Trump officials in September, he left the administration in 2017, but reporting Bannon’s conversations with Trump ahead of the January 6 attack, as well as remarks made on his podcast, War Room, indicate that his testimony would be of considerable interest to the commission.
On January 5, just a day before the attack, Bannon told listeners to his podcast that “Hell will break loose tomorrow.” according to CNN; in December, according to Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their recent book Danger, Bannon told Trump that: “We will kill him in the cradle. Kill the Biden presidency in the cradle.”
Despite Friday’s indictment, it is extremely unclear whether even the prospect of prison will force Bannon to testify; as Philip Bump of the Washington Post wrote Friday, “The indication will likely be a matter of pride [for Bannon], proves he is a true soldier in this world-changing fight that he advertised in his show. “
Regardless of Bannon’s inclination to testify, however, it now seems substantially more likely that he will face some consequences for not doing so, unlike previous Trump officials who ignored the subpoenas; if found guilty, according to the DOJ, will face “a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in prison, plus a $ 100 to $ 1,000 fine” for each of the two counts of outrage.
Additionally, with the DOJ backing Congressional inquiries with real legal force, the threat of a subpoena could prove to be a powerful incentive to testify and a key tool for Congress in the face of Trump’s efforts to thwart investigations. .
Bannon’s indictment is just one of two developments this week that suggest Trump’s stonewalling tactics may be reaching their limits; the other came earlier in the week when a DC district court judge ruled the committee is expected to receive documents from the Trump White House relating to the attack.
For the moment, a provisional administrative injunction means that the committee will have to wait at least a little longer to receive the documents – the arguments before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals are set for November 30th – but experts say the case is moving fast by federal court standards, a blow to Trump’s efforts to run out of time.
Notably, Chutkan’s decision was pronounced just 23 days after Trump filed a lawsuit. according to the New York Times; in contrast, it took a district court more than three months to rule on a Effort of 2019 to force former White House adviser Don McGahn to testify about Trump’s efforts to thwart investigations into Russia.
In his sentence on Tuesday, Judge Tanya Chutkan concluded that Trump’s claims of executive privilege are not sufficient to withhold documents from Congress, writing that “the public interest consists in allowing – not enforcing – the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events that have brought and occurred on January 6. “
“The presidents are not kings, and the plaintiff [Trump] he is not president, “Chutkan said.
Between that case and the threat of a prosecution now hovering over hardline former Trump administration officials – and with Trump and the GOP removed from power at least until the 2022 mid-term elections – there is a real possibility that the tactic Trump’s favorite, filibuster, will not be as effective a shield for him as it was previously.
Filming is a classic Trump tactic – and one that worked before
Trump put a lot of emphasis on delaying tactics during his presidency, and there’s a good reason he’s doing the same thing now: It worked before.
In the past, both as a candidate and in office with the levers of power at his disposal, Trump has successfully blocked, hindered, or initiated any number of efforts to uncover potentially embarrassing or even incriminating information about himself.
Even before taking office, Trump successfully and repeatedly pointed to the issue of issuing his tax returns, quoting an audit by the IRS that the agency itself claimed would not stop them from doing so, and ultimately managed to prevent their release until after they left office, when the The US Supreme Court has ruled that Trump’s tax returns could be released to the New York City district attorney’s office in an investigation into Trump’s personal and corporate finances.
Similar tactics, including a categorical refusal to comply with subpoenas, worked even while Trump was in office; even if hey what? impeached for obstruction of Congress – in addition to the abuse of power – in 2019 after ordering government agencies and witnesses not to comply with Congressional subpoenas, it was finally acquitted in the Senate.
Like Maegan Vazquez. of CNN pointed out last year, “Trump’s habit of non-compliance is, in some ways, an effective strategy”: Even before his first impeachment, Trump’s strategy successfully thwarted Mueller’s investigation. Under pressure to quickly turn a relationship, Vazquez points out, Mueller declined to interview Trump directly, knowing he would turn into a legal quagmire that would hold back the investigation for as long as possible.
But while Trump’s tactic was often successful when he was in office, with Republicans controlling at least one chamber of Congress, now that Trump and his party are out of power, there’s only so much he can do to block the law. investigation by the committee of 6 January into his conduct.
Congress has no time to waste, but Trump may have a lot to hide
Bannon’s indictment also signals the seriousness with which the Jan.6 committee is handling its investigation – and for good reason.
Among other issues, the committee is potentially facing a tightening time: with the midterms of 2022 fast approaching and Republicans in first position to regain control of the house, the committee may only have so long to conduct its investigation before it risks being shut down by the majority of the Republican House.
This means that Trump’s stonewalling tactics are potentially even more powerful, if successful, and raise the stakes of the committee’s work.
Notably, while much is already known about the actions of Trump and his allies after the 2020 presidential election and before the January 6 uprising, Trump’s advisers could still provide key first-hand details if forced to testify.
Bannone in particular, the report suggests, was one of the main instigators of the events leading up to the January 6 attack; lawyer John Eastman, another key figure who wrote a memo outlining ways Trump could attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, was also sued from the committee this week.
So far, many members of Trump’s inner circle have disregarded subpoenas; On Friday, his former cabinet chief, Mark Meadows, turned up in deadline for testifying and now he may face contempt for his postponement to Congress.
But as this week’s progress on several fronts shows, Trump’s best efforts to thwart the process haven’t slowed the process as much as he could have hoped for. From all indications, the January 6 committee is willing to use its power to carry out a thorough investigation and, if so, it may still have enough time to uncover new details about what happened on January 6 – and on like Trump, the clear favorite for the Republican presidential nomination of 2024what does it has to do with it.