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House Select Committee Sets Sights On Steve Bannon

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist for President Donald Trump, is now the subject of the Democrats’ political witch hunt.

Unable or unwilling, so far, to go for Trump himself and issue him a subpoena they have trained their focus on Bannon, the host of the hugely popular “War Room” podcast.

It could be because Bannon hosts the popular show and they fear him as much as they fear Trump, or it could be that they believe they have a real case.

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But even CNN believes that by possibly holding Bannon in criminal contempt for not complying with the subpoena from Congress it could backfire on the Democrats.

Action that will unfold next week against the ex-President’s ideological soul mate is intended as a warning sign to those in Trump’s wider orbit. And the chairman of the January 6 committee, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, warned on CNN that no one is “off limits” in terms of being compelled to testify — including Trump himself.

The panel is determined to use every method possible to find the truth about the lead-up to a pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol on January 6. But the committee’s efforts may also end up emphasizing a dark truth revealed by Trump’s time in power — and highlighting the increasing threat for the future, too — as Trump relentlessly attacks US democratic institutions ahead of a possible 2024 White House bid.

Attempts to hold the former President’s inner circle accountable often fall short and end up having the unintended effect of further politicizing the vital institutions of government. This committee’s effort will face exactly the same kind of obstruction and intransigence as previous investigations of the former commander in chief meant to subject him to the checks and balances of the US constitutional system.

In a wider sense, the coming legal duel will also underline how the constitutional promise of oversight has been constantly shredded by Trump both in and out of power. Bannon never hid his desire to tear down the rules set by Washington’s establishment, so he may relish the challenge and the chance to launch a political cause célèbre.

Of course, CNN believes that tearing down the political establishment is dangerous and dark, but they fail to comprehend that a large portion of the citizens of this nation, people that Trump and Bannon appeal to, want the establishment torn down.

But even CNN admits that a case against Bannon would be complex and could take years, if it even happens.

The House Select Committee is set to meet on Tuesday to begin the process of making a criminal referral, which would then have to go to the entire House for a vote. It would then head to the US attorney for the District of Columbia to determine the next steps. And then, CNN said, “given the deeply political nature of the case, it will almost certainly fall to US Attorney General Merrick Garland to decide whether to pursue a criminal case against Bannon.”

Stanley Brand, a former general counsel to the House of Representatives, said on CNN’s “Newsroom” on Thursday that the process ahead was strewn with obstacles and was not guaranteed to produce the result the committee is hoping for.
“The history of this is not all that easy for the Congress,” he said.

“And while they can, in a sense, huff and puff, until they get a conviction and a final judgment, it could be years,” he said.

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson said on CNN that no one, even Trump, was “off limits” and that he believes Bannon has information the committee wants.

“We think Steve Bannon has information that is germane to what happened on January 6,” he said CNN anchor  Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.”

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“If he refuses the subpoena like we expect him to continue to do, we are left with no other choice than to ask the Justice Department to lock him up and hold him in contempt. Clearly, that might send enough of a message that he will agree to talk to us,” he said.

Bannon’s resistance does not render the committee toothless. Several other Trump acolytes, including ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Pentagon official Kash Patel, are “engaging” with the committee — and the panel agreed to short postponements of their appearances — though it remains unclear if that contact amounts to any form of cooperation.
They may find the prospect of a criminal referral more troublesome — even though Trump’s lawyers have already claimed their deliberations with him are covered by executive privilege. And the committee has already heard from former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who served in the tumultuous final days of the Trump administration as the then-President sought to thwart Joe Biden’s presidential election victory across multiple fronts.
But even as the committee pushes ahead, time will be ticking down to the midterm elections in November 2022, which could spell the probe’s eventual demise. Multiple lengthy legal actions like one involving Bannon could still hamper its ability to get all the facts.

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