Has Steve Bannon cut a plea deal with Robert Mueller?

Sometimes we watch an event play out from the outside, and only later do we learn that we were watching something entirely different from what we thought we were watching. We recently learned that George Papadopoulos had been reporting directly to Steve Bannon during the Donald Trump campaign, which led MSNBC analyst Malcolm Nance to predict on-air that Bannon will be arrested. But looking back at the timing of Papadopoulos’s arrest and Bannon’s departure from the White House this summer, has he already been busted? Bear with me here.

We’ve known all along that Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrested Papadopoulos on July 27th without warning. We also know that Papadopoulos immediately agreed to a plea deal. We still don’t know who or what Papadopoulos gave up in order to get that deal. We also know that buzz about Steve Bannon leaving the White House began quickly thereafter, and three weeks later, Bannon resigned for reasons that are still fuzzy. Now Papadopoulos’s fiancé is publicly confirming that Bannon would have known everything Papadopoulos was up to.

At the time of Bannon’s departure, the media presented several conflicting storylines about why he was resigning. It was already attributed to everything from his feud with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, to his feud with Jared Kushner, to the death of Heather Heyer at the hands of white supremacists, to the manner in which Bannon was portrayed on Saturday Night Live. When that many competing theories are floated as to why an unexplained event happened, it often ends up being none of the above.

Let’s say that George Papadopoulos gave Robert Mueller evidence that incriminated Steve Bannon in the Trump-Russia scandal. Let’s further say that Mueller then informed Bannon that he was hosed, and Bannon – long a pragmatist and a survivor despite his decades of shady activities – decided to cut a deal of his own. He would have then resigned not long thereafter, before his deal had a chance to leak out. Let’s say that it never did leak out. It’s just a theory. But based on what we now know, it fits the facts better than any other theory about why Bannon resigned when he did.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report