On Thursday, the entire House will vote on whether to refer Steve Bannon for criminal prosecution for contempt. Only a simple majority is required, so the measure is guaranteed to pass. But while House Republicans’ votes won’t matter in terms of the outcome, many of them are facing a no-win situation.
From a pure strategy standpoint (setting aside right and wrong), House Republicans in conservative pro-Trump districts would be smart to vote against prosecuting Bannon, while House Republicans in moderate swing districts would be smart to vote in favor of prosecuting Bannon. After all, they’ll each be forced to justify their votes when they seek reelection in 2022.
But as we’ve seen time and again, most House Republicans – even the ones in moderate districts – are afraid of Trump releasing a nastygram press release about them. So a lot of them will likely side with Bannon and Trump on this contempt vote, even though they’re in the kinds of districts where their Democratic opponents can (and certainly will) use their vote against them in 2022.
So when a bunch of House Republicans end up voting against referring Steve Bannon for prosecution, instead of merely lamenting about how awful it is, let’s be smart and look at this for the win that it is. Not only will Bannon be referred for prosecution anyway, a bunch of House Republicans are handing us something that we can use against them in the midterms.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report