Amid all the recent news about the January 6th Committee landing major cooperating witnesses and the DOJ secretly targeted Trump world for months with a January 6th grand jury, it’s easy to forget that the first major indictment in these probes has already happened. The committee had the DOJ indict Steve Bannon for criminal contempt, and he’s now going through court proceedings ahead of his trial.
Bannon had been planning to argue to the trial jury that because his attorney had advised him not to cooperate with the January 6th Committee subpoena, it means he’s innocent. But earlier this month the judge ruled that Bannon cannot use this defense, which means Bannon has no defense, which in turn means that if he goes to trial he’ll lose.
At the time we asked what Bannon might do next. Was he ready to cut a plea deal against Trump world, or was he first going to try some more pointless stunts in the delusional hope of getting himself off the hook? Now it turns out Bannon is trying at least one more stunt.
Bannon is now asking the judge to dismiss the contempt charges entirely, per CNN. Bannon’s arguments are so silly as to include complaints about the partisan makeup of the January 6th Committee. This will go nowhere, of course. The judge already showed that he had no inclination to agree with Bannon on any of this, when he threw out Bannon’s planned trial defense.
This motion by Bannon will not allow him to “run out the clock” or any of the other defeatist catch-phrases that get tossed around on social media any time someone in Trump world files something like this. In reality the judge will strike down Bannon’s request, and the trial will remain on track for its existing start date.
The only question is whether Bannon will keep playing these pointless games right up until trial, or if he’ll realize he’s out of options and cut a deal. If he goes to trial, he goes to prison.
Also, keep in mind that Steve Bannon has regularly used the court hearings in his contempt case to try to force the DOJ to give him more information about the broader criminal case that it’s pretty obviously been building against him. Bannon has failed in these efforts. But it helps explain why the DOJ hasn’t yet indicted Mark Meadows for contempt, given that the DOJ is also pretty obviously building a broader case against Meadows. Why give Meadows the opportunity to poke around in the broader case against him, as Bannon is currently trying to do?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report