A project kept me away from blogging yesterday. Actually, what really kept me away was bewilderment: I could not figure out what to think of Bannon's testimony. We know about his appearance before the Intel Committee only from partial reports; here is the fullest account yet published.
Everything depends on whether or not Bannon has turned, or will turn, on Trump. Right now, I don't think that he will.
The alleged pledge to cooperate with Mueller means little, since we're dealing with a group of people who lie all the time. So far, all evidence indicates that Bannon is still on Team Trump, even though Bannon and Trump have reason to hate each other.
In his appearance before Congress, Bannon claimed executive privilege, or something like it, for his every interaction with Trump -- before the election, during the transition, in the White House, and post-White House. We all know the score. Trump demands omerta, and he doesn't care much about whether silence has a legal justification. Neither does he care if his underlings face unpleasant consequences.
In his demands for fanatical loyalty, Trump reminds me of the 12th century Ismaili leader Hassan-i Sabbah, who (according to legend) would entertain guests by ordering one of his Fedayeen warriors to leap off a cliff.
Given all of the harsh words and mutual contempt, given the clash of two egos so massive that one planet cannot contain both, why would Steve Bannon hurl himself from a cliff at Trump's command?
Why did Bannon expose himself legally? Why did he outrage even the House Republicans? Why did his lawyer continually check in with the White House? Whythis...?
Bannon attacked the Republicans running these congressional committees for choosing to investigate the Trump campaign and Russia. He said it was part of an "establishment" plan to try to "nullify" the election result. Gowdy challenged him on that, asking Bannon who is this establishment you refer to who is trying to nullify Trump's victory? Bannon answered: Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Gowdy countered that Bannon couldn't have it both ways.
Bannon has turned into a dog who remains loyal to Master even though Master keeps kicking him. Yet in all other respects, Bannon is anything but servile. The guy's a bombastic narcissist -- just like Trump, though better-read -- yet here he is, bent over and trying not to weep as he tells the school bully: "Thank you sir. May I please have another?"
Bannon's suggestion that Ryan and McConnell are trying to "nullify" Trump's victory is beyond absurd. Ryan and McConnell are, arguably, the biggest enablers in American history. They could have gotten rid of Trump ages ago, if they so desired.
Last night, Rachel Maddow offered a Theory of Bannon which didn't make a whole lot of sense. Watch the video above, and perhaps you'll agree with my reaction: This is one of the few occasions when I have to say: "Sorry, Rachel, but no sale." Yeah, it's worth noting that Lewandowsky's stonewalling bothered the Committee less than Bannon's stonewalling did. But I don't think that the Mueller subpoena explains much. Right now, I see no evidence that the Congressional investigations (if they can be called that) are working at cross purposes with the Mueller investigation.
In the hands of Robert Palmer -- who thinks that Bannon has "flipped" (in the legal sense, not the psycho sense) -- the Maddow theory went from questionable to absurd. (Palmer has his virtues, but his great failing is his optimism. I hate optimism.)
Rachel Maddow revealed on her MSNBC show on Wednesday evening that Mueller has officially signed off on Bannon continuing to use this attorney during his upcoming interview, despite the fact that he also represents two other Trump-Russia clients.
This means Mueller is certain that the attorney in question is not doing Trump’s bidding. Yet this is the same attorney who kept calling someone after each questions asked by the House Intel Committee yesterday, in order to find out whether it should be answered. Yet at no point did Bannon or his attorney say that “executive privilege” was being invoked, instead referring to it more generically as a “gag order.” Now that we know Mueller has 100% trust in Bannon’s attorney, it’s fairly safe to assume that the attorney was in fact calling Mueller’s people during the hearings, not Trump’s people.
In other words, Steve Bannon has flipped on Donald Trump.
The "Bannon has flipped" theory has been around for months, in one form or another. Palmer has let confirmation bias affect his better judgment. If Bannon has flipped, he would not have launched that ludicrous attack on Ryan and McConnell. Josh Marshall has it right: "That seems like a caution to anyone who thinks Bannon is going to go rogue on Trump just because Trump went to war with Bannon."
Bloomberg published a persuasive report that Bannon's silence came at the request of the White House, not Mueller.
Uttam Dhillon, the White House lawyer responsible for responding to congressional investigators in the Russia probe, made the executive privilege request to Bannon’s lawyer, William Burck, prior to Bannon’s appearance Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee, said the person, who discussed the situation on the condition of anonymity.
Burck passed specific questions to the White House during the House panel interview, and was given instructions on when to respond and when not to, the person said.
“This was effectively a gag order by the White House preventing this witness from answering almost any question concerning his time in transition, in the administration, and many questions even after he left the administration,” Schiff said. “This obviously can’t stand. We expect to have Mr. Bannon back in, we hope very soon, with a different position by the White House.”
Face it: Trump, not Mueller, is the one who demanded omerta. And "executive privilege" really was the excuse given.
So what the hell is going on? Why is Steve Bannon so damned docile? When Bannon read Evola's "Let's return to feudalism" fantasies, Bannon no doubt imagined himself as a lord, not a serf. Yet right now, he seems to be saying: "Serf's up!"
Allow me to offer a theory so outrageous that it may not be discussed in polite society, even though it has the virtue of explaining nearly everything. This theory not only explains Bannon's behavior, it also explains why Ryan and McConnell won't toss Trump onto the garbage heap, why Ryan has decided not to seek re-election, why Lindsay Graham has become a different person, and why so many non-fascist Republicans have decided to enable the goosesteppers.
Trump is emulating Putin.
Simple as that.
How does Putin stay in power? His main weapon is kompromat, but on occasion, he also kills.
We know Trump by now. We know that Trump paid hush money to a porn star with whom he slept because she resembles his daughter. We know that Trump learned about politics from mob lawyer Roy Cohn. We know that Trump worships power. We know that he admired the decision to send tanks into Tiananmen Square. We know that Trump is a thug who believes This is how the world works. We know that Trump is a conspiracy theorist -- and we know that all right-wing conspiracy believers secretly long to be conspiracy practitioners.
Steve Bannon doesn't want to end up like Litvenenko. Simple as that. That's why a would-be Uebermensch has morphed into the dog who loves Master even after Master kicks him.
If this Theory of Bannon has any validity, then do not expect Steve Bannon to cooperate with Mueller. Bannon will dance and dodge, but he won't tell the full truth.
Why do Steve Bannon, Don McGahn and Reince Priebus have the same lawyer? Perhaps because the same sword hangs over all three.
Legal consensus appears to be that executive privilege needs to be specifically invoked before Congress if it is to have any legal force. According to various lawyers it doesn't apply during a presidential transition period and it is unlikely the Supreme Court would see it that way. A "gag order" assertion is not sufficient. That could mean just a signed Trump confidentiality agreement having no legal force in criminal or Congressional proceedings. So the PR announcements from the WH and their lawyers on this issue are just BS.
posted by gavan : 8:14 PM
Joe you were so right about the kompromat - Stormy must be yet another of his agents..
What a genius V Satanovich was to have foreseen her usefulness as well as Trump's victory. And now hes deploying it.
Could Bannon see the congressional committee as un-trustworthy? Could he be saving what he has to say for Mueller? Could he be cross with Trump but hate the Republicans more? Not all these conjectures are mutually inclusive either. BTW- Rachel likes to throw shit out there and see if it sticks. She is like you in that respect Joseph.
The house committee asked Mueller if he was planning to interview Bannon and received no answer. This is something the committee does as a courtesy. Without an answer the committee went ahead and interviewed Bannon and while the interview was happening word of a grand jury subpoena got out. After that Bannon couldn't testify to the committee. It's as simple as that.