This past week a number of media pundits built up the absurd notion that the January 6th Committee was going to take some unspecified but magical subpoena enforcement action at 12:01am last night. When that didn’t happen, because this isn’t a movie script and things are more complicated than that in the real world, those same pundits bashed the committee for not waving an instant magic wand.
Things got even uglier this morning when pundits began claiming to know for certain that there would be no January 6th subpoena enforcement at all. But the January 6th Committee itself just used its official Twitter account to confirm that “This is all nonsense.” Liz Cheney, the number two on the committee, added that “This is not true. 1/6 Committee is making significant progress and we will enforce subpoenas.”
Now the committee has released an official statement revealing that Mark Meadows and Kash Patel did in fact already respond to the subpoenas; so much for the media’s insistence that everyone who was subpoenaed would just magically ignore it. The committee is also confirming that it’s going to do to Steve Bannon exactly what it previously said it would: it’s making a criminal referral against him to the Department of Justice for contempt of Congress. As we explained earlier in the week, this will result in Bannon being criminally indicted, arrested, put on trial, and likely sent to prison – though none of that will instantly happen via magic wand.
So all the kerfuffle and doomsday hand-wringing by the pundits last night and this morning was for nothing. The January 6th Committee has in fact already scared multiple witnesses into taking their subpoenas seriously, and it is in fact making a criminal referral to bust Bannon.
Yes, the committee’s press release says that it will “swiftly consider” the criminal referral against Bannon, and yes, a number of media pundits are now insisting that this wording means nothing will be done. But they know that’s a bunch of crap. As Palmer Report has pointed out numerous times, phrases like “swiftly consider” are politician-speak for “we have absolutely already decided to do this.”
Keep in mind that Steve Bannon isn’t defying this subpoena because he thinks he can magically get away with ignoring it. He’s doing this because he’s currently under confirmed criminal investigation in New York State, and because he fully expects that the DOJ’s January 6th criminal probe will find its way to him, and he’s afraid that he’ll further incriminate himself if he testifies to Congress in the meantime. He’s got no good options, and he’s choosing what he thinks is the least bad option for himself. But even he can’t possibly be under the impression that he’s going to “get away” with anything. In the real world, that’s simply not how anything works.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report