House 1/6 Committee Subpoenas: Steve Bannon, COME ON DOWN!
It's going down for real at the House January 6 Select Committee, which just dropped subpoenas for documents and testimony on four of the most notorious Trumpland figures: Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, and Kash Patel. Now we'll find out if Trump and his cronies are planning to make a real effort to assert executive privilege, or if they're going to send some tort lawyer from New Jersey to spew performative nonsense onto the federal docket.
"The Select Committee is investigating the facts, circumstances, and causes of the January 6th attack and issues relating to the peaceful transfer of power, to identify and evaluate lessons learned and to recommend corrective laws, policies, procedures rules, or regulations," Committee Chair Bennie Thompson wrote to the four witnesses. "This inquiry includes examination of how various individuals and entities coordinated their activities in the events leading up to the events of January 6, 2021."
Bannon and Patel are summoned to appear for testimony on October 14, with Meadows and Scavino scheduled for the day after. And it's probably useful to divide them that way with regard to presidential privilege as well.
Bannon, who was booted from the White House years ago, can't possibly assert privilege over his conversations with Trump leading up to the insurrection, much less whatever went down at the Willard Hotel on the January 5 where he tried to persuade Members of Congress to stop the election certification, according to Bob Woodward's book. Ditto for Bannon's own January 5 podcast, in which he promised that "All hell will break loose tomorrow" and exhorted his followers to get to DC: "Tomorrow is game day. So many people said, man, if I was in revolution I would be in Washington. Well, this is your time in history."
Bannon cooperated with the Mueller investigation and, although he refused to answer congressional inquiries about his time in the White House, was never reckless enough to pretend that there was privilege to be asserted over his campaign work or the conversations he had with the Trump after he got fired. Whether the mildewing podcaster claims a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself this go round is another matter entirely.
As for Patel, the executive privilege claim is only marginally more credible because he was already parked at the Defense Department as an assistant to acting SecDef Christopher Miller during the lead up to the insurrection. The Republican Zelig got his start as Devin Nunes's lackey and made frequent appearances in the Ukraine fuckery from his perch at the National Security Council, after which Trump is alleged to have tried to appoint him as head of the CIA but instead parked him at the Defense Department as part of an effort overturn the election.
The Trump administration consistently argued that executive privilege was a magical blanket spread over the entire federal bureaucracy, rather than the narrow exemption from congressional oversight covering the president and his top advisors that the Nixon precedents allowed. But with Bill Barr (and Meatball and Jeff Sessions) running the DOJ, they got away with it for four straight years. President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland have made clear that they're not going to play that game, particularly as regards the attempted coup on January 6. So if Patel wants to give two middle fingers to the Committee and refuse to answer questions about his communications with the White House and his role in ensuring that the Capitol was or was not adequately protected, he's unlikely to get any cover from the DOJ.
But Scavino and Meadows might be another story, because they actually worked in the White House in close proximity to President Trump. If they want to bollix this investigation up through protracted litigation and roll the dice that Republicans take back the House in the midterms and shitcan this entire inquiry, it's probably not a bad bet. On the other hand, if they lose that bet, they might wind up prosecuted for contempt of Congress if the DOJ doesn't back their gambit to avoid coughing up the details of their role in the insurrection planning. You pay your money, you take your chances.
We've already seen emails from Meadows to top Justice Department employees trying to get them to ratfuck the election based on the most insane conspiracy theories on 4chan — there's no privilege for that stuff at all. And Democrats are in no mood to play nice here.
"We may have additional tools now that we didn't before, including a Justice Department that may be willing to pursue criminal contempt when people deliberately flout compulsory process," Rep. Adam Schiff told CNN, adding later, "This administration, like any other, I would not expect them to give us a blank check and say we're going to never assert privilege, or never support an assertion of privilege. But I think the indications are very positive."
Meanwhile, Trump is out there being Trump.
The "Unselect Committee" of highly partisan politicians, a similar group that perpetrated the now proven lie of Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2, and many other Scams, has sent out Harassment Subpoenas on Jan. 6th so that the Government of the United States can continue wasting time while Russia, China, and virtually every other country that deals with our Nation can continue to "eat our lunch," and laugh at the stupidity of what is going on at our Southern Border, and the worst withdrawal from a war zone by any Nation in history—all of this while the Democrats persecute and prosecute Republicans which is, together with Rigging Elections, essentially all they know how to do. We will fight the Subpoenas on Executive Privilege and other grounds, for the good of our Country, while we wait to find out whether or not Subpoenas will be sent out to Antifa and BLM for the death and destruction they have caused in tearing apart our Democrat-run cities throughout America.
Ummm, okay. It's not at all clear that a former president can assert executive privilege, but GO OFF, POPPY.
In summary and in conclusion, Democrats — and Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — are coming out swinging. It remains to be seen whether Republicans and their lazyass leader have the energy to swing back.
[Press Release, January 6 Select Committee]
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.