Yesterday Steve Bannon failed to show up for his scheduled January 6th Committee deposition, as expected. In response the committee announced that Bannon was being held in contempt, and that his contempt hearing will take place this Tuesday. And then the complaining began.
Palmer Report tried to warn everyone that, in spite of the false hype and false expectations being built up by a number of major media pundits, no action would magically be taken against Bannon at 12:01am once the deadline passed. We tried to warn you not to expect any sort of instant magic wand responses, because this isn’t an episode of Law & Order.
In the real world, things proceed according to a certain series of steps, all of which have to be taken in order for any sort of enforcement action to be successful. But the complainers across social media are nonetheless convinced that because Steve Bannon isn’t being whisked away into a black van before this weekend, all hope is lost and Bannon will magically get away with it all. Of course this is all hallucinatory nonsense.
Here’s what will happen as a result of Steve Bannon’s contempt hearing taking place after the weekend as opposed to before the weekend: NOTHING. Bannon will not use his lost weekend to magically cook up a plot to get himself off the hook. He will not try to flee the country (we wouldn’t get that lucky; such a stunt wouldn’t help him any but would speed up his arrest). Our democracy will not collapse in a heap as a result of Bannon’s hearing taking place on Tuesday instead of today, in spite of the increasingly hysterical media narratives about how democracy will collapse by this time tomorrow unless someone waves a magic wand today. We’re facing a number of very serious challenges, but none of them have to be solved by the 59 minute mark of the episode; again, this isn’t a TV series, even if cable news really wants us to think of it as one.
Steve Bannon will get his. The January 6th Committee has clearly been itching for the opportunity to make an example out of someone, so that upcoming witnesses will fall in line. There’s a reason people like Mark Meadows are already reportedly beginning to cooperate; they’re sufficiently scared of facing the kind of contempt proceedings that the committee is carrying out against Bannon. Tuesday’s hearing may not be enough to satisfy the “all hope is lost” crowd, but it’s obviously enough to strike fear into others around Bannon.
As for Steve Bannon himself, it’s worth reiterating that he’s under confirmed criminal investigation in New York. If he complies with his congressional subpoena and testifies, and if he gets flustered during his testimony and incriminates himself, New York prosecutors can and will use it against him. Bannon knows this, so he’s having to weigh the six months in federal prison that he might get for failure to comply, against the years in state prison that he’s looking at in New York.
Bannon is going down one way or the other. He’s giving this away with his own actions. If he thought he were in the clear, he’d be showing up to testify, so he could flaunt it and use his committee appearance as a platform for promoting his agenda. Instead he’s stuck in a no-win situation where he’s about to get a federal hammer dropped on him while trying to avoid a much bigger state prison hammer. If anything, Bannon will likely spend this weekend hunkered down with his lawyers, trying to make sense of the legal nightmare that’s closing in on him from all sides.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report