After the judge in his criminal trial preemptively threw out every one of Steve Bannon’s absurd lines of defense, it left the question of what kind of defense Bannon would even try to put on. After all, he’s a secret evil genius who’s always three steps ahead of the rest of us, right? Actually, Bannon was never that, no matter how much he and a complicit media built him up to be an evil genius. Bannon’s trajectory has always been that of a two-bit, one-note con man.
So it’s perhaps not surprising that, according to those inside the courtroom today, Bannon isn’t putting on any defense at all. He’s not testifying. His lawyer isn’t calling any witnesses. No evidence is being presented in his defense. Just nothing.
Some observers will still insist that this must be part of some secret evil genius strategy on the part of Bannon. But in reality, this is what defendants sometimes do when the Feds have them dead to rights on a straightforward charge like contempt, and they can’t think of any way to even try to create reasonable doubt. They just give up trying to win, and roll the dice on the faint hope that they might get lucky with a bad jury or with an appeal later.
It’s not that Bannon won’t try some other new antics once he’s convicted. This is a guy who thinks he’s three times smarter than everyone else, and – like so many other Trump acolytes – seems to have convinced himself that he can somehow magically defeat criminal charges with the court filing equivalent of mean tweets.
But as far as this trial goes, Bannon appears to have just given up tying. It would be shocking if he’s not convicted; the bigger question may be whether the jury convicts him before or after the weekend. Bannon will be sent to prison, even as we all wait to see what additional more serious charges the DOJ may have coming against Bannon. So much for the notion that Bannon is some evil genius. He truly seemed to think he could essentially yell “your fly is down” at the criminal justice system and it would somehow save him from being tried and convicted.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report