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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Is Bannon the Bomb?

Earlier today, Virginia Heffernan offered a mysterious tweet:
Tweeting tick tick tick tick is irresponsible, so I'm not doing it right now.
To which she later added this whimsical coda:
I wouldn't not untick today
In the twelve hours since these words appeared, nothing has happened to justify that ticking sound. So I presume that the bomb, if bomb there is, will go off tomorrow.

I think that the bomb has a name: Steve Bannon. He is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee today. Bannon is as vindictive and narcissistic as Trump -- and he's even nastier, since Trump, on his deepest level, wants love, while Steve Bannon long ago made Alberich's choice:
Das Licht lösch' ich euch aus,
entreisse dem Riff das Gold,
schmiede den rächende Ring;
denn hör' es die Flut:
so verfluch' ich die Liebe!
There is no way for Bannon to return to prominence unless Trump is brought to ruin. Polling reveals that Bannon is now wildly unpopular among Trump voters; the only way for Bannon to rise is for The Donald to fall.

A morose Bannon recently compared himself to Thomas Cromwell. I hope he decides to emulate Oliver Cromwell -- the one who signed his King's death warrant.

(I speak metaphorically, of course.)

What beans might Bannon spill? Well, last night's Rachel Maddow show added greatly to our knowledge of Trumpian money laundering, a subject about which Bannon seems to know a thing or two.

But I think that Bannon's main goal will be to destroy Jared Kushner. Remember this story from last June?
A GOP strategist named Rick Wilson tweeted Friday, “A little bird tells me that a certain White House staff member whose name rhymes with Beeve Stannon is crapping diamonds over Parscale.” Steve Bannon has every reason to be so nervous over Trump campaign digital director Brad Parscale being called to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, which is very interested in how Russian bots targeted political messages in critical swing states, and Parscale is the man to ask.

Parscale played a critical role in the Trump campaign, directing online spending and voter targeting. Parscale was in charge of a highly sophisticated data bank built and paid for by the Republican National Committee. More details on this story and how it could blow the Trump Russia investigation wide open from CNN:
House Russia investigators are planning to call on Brad Parscale, the digital director of President Donald Trump's campaign, as the congressional and federal probes dig into any possible connections between the Trump digital operation and Russian operatives, congressional sources said this week.

The House Russia investigation is planning to send an invite to Parscale soon, as they begin scheduling witnesses over the summer, sources said. The Senate intelligence committee is also interested in how Russian bots were able to target political messages in specific districts in critical swing states, although it is not clear if Parscale will be called before the Senate panel as well.

The news from the House comes as federal investigators have dug into Jared Kushner's role overseeing Trump's data operation -- although he has not been identified as a target of the probe. Kushner is expected to talk soon with Senate investigators about the campaign's data operation.
Bannon hates Kushner. Reawakening this scandal-within-the-scandal may be the best way to bring down that particular opponent.

Speaking of Jared, take a look at this Daily Beast piece...
And then there’s Cambridge Analytica. The data analytics firm rose to prominence during the 2016 Republican primaries. Its head, Alexander Nix, is close with Rebekah Mercer, who has funded Breitbart. Mercer partially owns Cambridge, and Bannon has worked closely with the company as well. A few months before the presidential election, Nix reached out to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and offered the firm’s services to help hackers organize and disburse emails that Hillary Clinton wiped from her hard drive. There’s no reason to believe Wikileaks ever received those emails, and Assange confirmed to The Daily Beast that he received an offer from Cambridge Analytica, which he subsequently rejected.

The House intelligence committee has zeroed in on the Kremlin’s efforts to persuade and misinform American voters using online targeting. This has made the Trump campaign’s data operation a key focal point for them. The fact that Bannon worked closely with Cambridge Analytica –– and that Jared Kushner also once boasted to Forbes about his role on the data front –– means the tech side of Trump World could also be a topic.
Both Mercer and Trump may live to regret their demonization of Steve Bannon.

Am I engaging in wishful thinking? Probably. Bannon may be planning to stonewall the committee; Trump may have secretly sent word that all will soon be forgiven. But right now, I will smile at the possibility that Hell hath no fury like a Bannon scorned.
You are not engaging in wishful thinking as Bannon has been subpoenaed by Mueller. He was also subpoenaed during his House testimony as he was stonewalling.

Jesus, can we lock everyone up yet?
In my view criminal proceedings and jail sentences are far from certain here. If the Republicans are forced by public pressure into impeachment proceedings then they may well seek to distance themselves from the political fallout by insisting as the price of their cooperation that criminal charges against Trump and associates be waived. "Need for the nation to move on," and all that. Never underestimate the ability of the GOP to ratfuck the country.
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