Steve Bannon has always been the overconfident self destructive type, whose bouts of success have always ultimately resulted in failure or ouster. So it wasn’t shocking that he almost immediately ended up on the losing end of the January 6th Committee, getting himself indicted and arrested right off the bat. If there’s a way to lose, Bannon always finds it. But then there’s Mark Meadows.
Meadows is an idiot, but he’s not that kind of idiot. He’s the kind of guy who managed to fail upward from being a terrible Congressman to being a terrible White House Chief of Staff, because if nothing else, he understands how the game is played. If there was a magic wand to be waved when it came to fending off the January 6th Committee without consequences, a weasel like Meadows was going to be the one to find it.
Moreover, everyone knows that Meadows is the kind of guy who can just sort of worm his way out of something like this, if there is indeed a way out. In fact, plenty of people in Trump world have probably been watching Meadows, hoping he could find a magic wand to wave that could make the committee just leave him alone.
That’s why it’s such a big deal that Meadows is struggling so badly when it comes to dealing with the committee. First he tried just refusing to cooperate, hoping that perhaps the committee wouldn’t refer him for criminal prosecution… because he’s Mark Meadows? No logic there, but desperate people usually skip past logic in the search for hope.
Once Meadows realized he was indeed about to find himself referred to the Department of Justice, indicted, arrested, and facing a federal criminal trial, he indeed caved. By all accounts he’s now turned over important enough documents that the committee has decided to hold off (for now) on having him indicted. But he’s still reportedly considering trying to invoke privilege when it comes to some of his interactions with Trump, because… wait, why does he think this is going to work? Oh right, he doesn’t. He’s already seen Bannon arrested for invoking imaginary privilege. Meadows is just desperately searching for baseless hope.
At this point Mark Meadows has now sold out at least some of the people around him with the evidence he’s turned over, and yet he’s still stuck trying to thread the needle of providing even more cooperation so he doesn’t get indicted for contempt, while not providing so much cooperation that he makes it easier for the Fulton County Georgia District Attorney to indict him for election tampering. Good luck pulling that one off.
Already, Donald Trump is publicly attacking Mark Meadows this week. As Meadows cooperates further with the January 6th Committee, the headlines about him throwing Trump world under the bus to try to save himself will only intensify. And of course his cooperation against others will only lead the committee to shine a brighter light on the Trump regime’s election tampering, which will only put more focus on the Georgia criminal probe, which Meadows finds himself near the center of.
Whether Mark Meadows ends up indicted, or whether he gives up everyone else in the name of keeping himself out of prison, is less relevant than the fact that everyone can see him struggling to walk this particular tightrope.
Steve Bannon self destructed the minute the January 6th Committee so much as sneezed in his direction, because it’s his nature. But Meadows is supposed to be able to worm his way out of things. And now everyone who’s being subpoenaed by he January 6th Committee is seeing Meadows unwittingly prove that there are no magic wands for getting out of this.
Other January 6th witnesses, more skittish and less savvy at getting away with this sort of thing, will cave because Mark Meadows is showing them that there’s no magically escaping any of this. The committee is getting precisely what it needs out of Meadows, and not just in terms of what he’s giving them. Meadows is showing every other upcoming witness that there simply are no magic wands, and that they have to choose between the bad options of giving up everyone around them or going to prison.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report