Decoding the sentencing of Steve Bannon and the subpoena to President Trump

Just yesterday, former Trump adviser and campaign strategist Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in jail following his conviction on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress. Bannon was ordered to pay a fine of $6,500.

Bannon was subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 incident for records and testimony in September of last year.

However, Bannon defied a subpoena and refused to comply with the House committee.

Biden’s Justice Department recommended that Bannon serve six months behind bars and pay a $200,000 fine.

Federal district court Judge Carl Nichols who rendered his judgment, said Bannon had shown “no remorse for his actions” and “has yet to demonstrate he has any intention of complying with the subpoena.”

However, Judge Nichols also said that Bannon did have ample grounds for appeal. Hence Bannon was released while any appeal to the sentence is resolved. 

Bannon said he respected the judge's decision but rightly denied any criminal wrongdoing. Bannon’s attorney confirmed he would be filing a notice of appeal.

Hours after Bannon was sentenced, President Trump was formally issued a subpoena from the January 6 panel, ordering him to testify before lawmakers about the Capitol riot.

Liberals reacted the way they always do, with obscene glee.











There were Twitter trends such as #TrumpIsGoingToJail and #BannonIsATraitor

Defying congressional subpoenas is nothing new; Obama officials have done it before and have suffered no consequences whatsoever.

We look at two specific cases.

Back in 2012, the House voted to hold Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over his failure to hand over documents related to the Fast and Furious arms trafficking scandal.

In 2010, two of the weapons linked to the Fast and Furious program were discovered at the murder site of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona.

Terry’s murder exposed the botched Fast and Furious operation to allow the transport of guns to Mexico's notorious cartels as a means of raising fury that would lead to calls for gun control.

Operation Fast and Furious was launched in 2009 by DOJ officials, in collaboration with the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) under Obama.

Between 2009 and 2011, ATF agents allowed more than 2,000 firearms to be sold to criminal elements and allowed them to move across the border.

Federal agents claimed they were hoping to track these guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders and eventually conduct arrests. They lost track of them instead. None of these claims made any sense; given that the guns went on to arm the cartels and led to many deaths, surely there were better and safer ways to fight Mexican drug cartels.

It is ironic that Obama officials were indirectly arming dangerous gangsters while attempting to seize or regulate guns from law-abiding citizens.

In the end, as many as 1,700 of those weapons went missing, and more than 100 have been found at bloody crime scenes both in the US and Mexico.  

However, despite the death toll and the serious dereliction of duty on the part of Holder, federal judge Amy Berman Jackson declined a House committee's bid to have Holder held in contempt of court and perhaps even jailed. Instead, Judge Jackson termed the House contempt motion "entirely unnecessary."

Judge Jackson was in the same position as Judge Nichols who sentenced Bannon.

Jackson is an Obama appointee entrusted to adjudicate if an Obama official was in contempt of a GOP majority Congress. 

Nichols is a Trump appointee entrusted to adjudicate if a former Trump official was contempt of a Democrat majority Congress. 

The Democrat appointee had no compunction acting in a partisan fashion while the Republican felt the need to baselessly punish another Republican just to prove his 'fairness.' 

Nichols probably feared that if he let Bannon go, Democrat thugs would have demonstrated outside his house, much like they did outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court Justices when Roe v. Wade was eventually overturned. Perhaps there would have been violence, too.

Nichols is probably expecting generous blandishments from Democrats for sentencing a powerful pro-Trump individual, despite being a Trump appointee.

But that is unlikely to happen.

They will instead focus on the fact that Nichols sentenced Bannon to 4 months in jail in defiance of Biden’s DOJ request of 6 months and the difference between the fine amount that the DOJ recommended and what was actually ordered. They will also lament that the judge didn’t order that Bannon be immediately sent to jail and gave him enough time to appeal.

Holder’s wasn’t the only Obama official who defied a congressional subpoena.

Back in 2014, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoenaed Obama's political director and adviser David Simas to testify before Congress.

The Committee was probing whether Obama's White House has used staffers for partisan campaign activities, which are prohibited under the Hatch Act.

Simas defied the subpoena and refused to testify before the committee.

Obama's White House said that Simas was “immune from congressional compulsion to testify on matters relating to his official duties” because doing so would threaten “longstanding interests of the Executive Branch in preserving the president’s independence and autonomy.”

But none of these privileges apply to Trump or his former advisers.

Make no mistake, the sentencing of Bannon and the subpoena to Trump are purposefully done weeks before the midterms to excite the Democrat base. They are sending a message – ‘give us power and we will outlaw all political opposition and send Trump and his supporters to jail.’

But another message has inadvertently also been dispatched across the country regarding Democrats' unprecedented criminalization of the political opposition. It sends a warning message to all, including fair-minded old-school Democrats, that challenging the Democrat D.C. establishment will have serious consequences.

The voters will ponder that if they did it to Bannon for defying subpoenas, could they do it to far smaller fry for complaining about inflation or crime or the fentanyl crisis caused due to Democrat misgovernance?

This will certainly encourage voters to vote against Democrats.

In a functioning democracy, the prevalence of the rule of law is paramount. All law enforcement agencies must be objective and apolitical. The law must be enforced strictly based on the nature of the crime and emphatically not the political proclivities of the culprit.

Legal egalitarianism is a fundamental tenet of civilized society.

When that essential principle begins to falter and the law is selectively applied, democracy ceases to prevail.

This is more proof that the U.S. is drifting away from the representative democratic values on which it was founded.

Will Republicans undo this mess when they take back the House?

January 2023 is just a few months away.

Image: Screen shot from MSNBC video, via YouTube

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