Steve Bannon looks like he is getting referred for criminal prosecution for failing to provide documents or show up for a deposition in response to a subpoena from the January 6th Commission investigating the MAGA attempted coup. His defiance was not a shock to anyone, as he had made it abundantly clear that he felt that he was somehow allowed to claim executive privilege, even though he was not actually IN the administration (sort of a key part of this claim) and the fact that Trump himself had not asserted claim of executive privilege in relation to this subpoena. But, you know, rules are for us, not them.
Elie Mystal joined Ari Melber on MSNBC late Thursday to discuss this (not) shocking development and in typical Elie-style, he did not mince words. First, mocking the idea of executive privilege “from a guy who can’t assert the privilege, for a guy he wasn’t actually working for over information about whether or not he could organize a coup against the government. That’s not privilege, folks, that’s a stupid argument.” Can I claim privilege today about anything? Is that a thing? IS THAT AN OPTION? Are we just making things up?
And regarding consequences? What should they be? Elie absolutely thinks there should be (and I agree): “Of course he should be prosecuted for failing to meet Congressional subpoena deadlines. But here’s the thing, Ari. You said he could go to jail. Will he, though? Will he? Because as you pointed out, this is a criminal referral.” And this is a valid point. It has been close to 40 years since Congress referred anyone for charges. Elie pointed out that “the last time we did this in 1983, Rita Ravel, I believe was her name, she got off at the jury trial.
So, even if Congress DOES refer Bannon (and others) for referral to the DOJ does not mean that charges will be filed. And even if charges do get filed, there is no guarantee that either (a) the clock will run out and the GOP will retake the House in 2022 or (b) Bannon will get off in court. This really is just a nasty delay tactic that may pay off, but I hope it won’t.