Posts tagged with "Steve Bannon"

Steve Bannon surrenders to Manhattan DA for ‘Build the Wall’ financial fraud case

September 9, 2022

Rightwing provocateur Steve Bannon turned himself in Thursday morning, September 8, to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, where he is expected to face criminal charges of financial fraud, reports The Daily Beast.

New York prosecutors are attempting to nail him for crimes that former President Donald Trump already had pardoned. However, that presidential Get Out of Jail card only applied to a previous federal case that had to be dropped. The DA operates at a state level and doesn’t have to abide by that pardon.

Bannon—who was scheduled to be arraigned at 2:30 p.m. (EDT)—had to turn over his passport, according to a source familiar with the case. That person said the DA’s case is being handled by two prosecutors in the office’s economic crimes bureau: assistant district attorneys Daniel Passeser and Michael Frantel.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees that a person cannot be prosecuted twice for the same crime, a concept known as “double jeopardy.” However, New Yorkers fed up with rampant corruption during the Trump Administration sought to create a loophole of sorts in 2019—allowing the state to pursue criminal charges on a local level that weren’t being addressed at the federal one.

The Manhattan DA’s office has taken the same approach with other Trump World associates. Last year, it brought a criminal cyberstalking case  against another person who previously had received a Trump pardon: Ken Kurson, a former editor of The New York Observer who’s close with Trump’s son-in-law and former Observer owner Jared Kushner. Earlier this year, Kurson took a plea deal for unlawfully spying on his ex-wife.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

January 6 Panel lays out Trump’s dangerous ‘call to arms’

July 14, 2022

As the January 6 committee’s explosive string of televised hearings resumed on Tuesday, July 12, the panel focused on “three rings” of the insurrection: Former President Donald Trump’s inside pressure campaign to persuade his vice president to overturn the electoral votes; the coordination between right-wing extremist groups to violently sack the Capitol; and the force of a MAGA crowd willing to march alongside them, reports The Daily Beast.

“All of these efforts would converge and explode on January 6th,” Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), a member of the congressional panel, said Tuesday.

Raskin added that “the problem of politicians whipping up crowds” was “the oldest domestic enemy of constitutional democracy in America.”

But Trump’s decision to order his angry followers to march on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 wasn’t spontaneous. The committee on Tuesday afternoon revealed a draft tweet that Trump wrote, but never sent, telling people, “Please arrive early, massive crowds expected, March to the Capitol after. Stop the Steal!!”

The committee also disclosed White House call logs that showed Trump twice spoke to right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon on the morning of January 5 shortly before Bannon took to his podcast to announce, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It’s all converging, and we’re on the point of attack.”

But the biggest bombshell of the hearing came in its final seconds, when Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), the committee’s co-chair, revealed that Trump recently tried to reach an undisclosed witness who has yet to testify. The matter, Cheney said, was referred by the committee to the Department of Justice, after the witness—who did not pick up the phone and has not been identified—reported it to his or her attorney.

The revelation is an obvious warning to stop Trump and his associates from further intimidating insiders who are willing to speak to investigators—and is a shot across the bow with the threat of criminal charges for witness tampering. A Trump spokesperson and his attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

So far, the Republican Party has lambasted these congressional hearings as a proxy attack on the former president. But the committee’s seventh hearing is already showing something that goes well beyond politics: the direct connection between a president who refused to leave office and armed insurrectionists who played a pivotal role in his attempt to interrupt the transfer of power.

At least three groups with ties to fascists and white supremacists—the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters, and the Proud Boys—served as bodyguards to Trump associates in the run-up to the insurrection. They also played pivotal roles in pushing past police lines on January 6, 2021.

The chairman of the congressional panel, Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), started the hearing by criticizing Trump’s refusal to concede in the weeks after the 2020 election and his role in the nation’s capital that day. “He seized on the anger he had already stoked among his … supporters. He didn’t wave them off. He urged them on.”

“Donald Trump summoned a mob to Washington, D.C., and ultimately spurred that mob to wage a violent attack on our democracy.”

On Tuesday, the committee also revealed that Trump went out of his way to insert menacing references to Mike Pence, the vice president whom he felt betrayed him.

An initial draft of his speech at the Ellipse park south of the White House on January 6 made no reference to Pence. White House records show that an angry reference to Pence was added after a chat that morning between Trump and his hardline rightwing political adviser, Stephen Miller.

That reference was quickly cut by speechwriters who knew better. But then Pence told Trump one final time that he was not willing to break with tradition—and violate the law—by abusing his role as president of the Senate and refusing to officially count electoral ballots. Shortly thereafter, special assistant to the president Robert Gabriel Jr. wrote an email to staff: “REINSERT THE MIKE PENCE LINES.”

By sorting through White House records, the committee also spotted how Trump ad-libbed and turned that single Pence reference into a total of eight. He took one reference to marching on the Capitol and repeated it three more times. His additions included, “Let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue,” and, “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not gonna have a country anymore.”

Cheney, the top Republican on the committee, noted that Trump should have known better than to continue to espouse conspiracy theories about the election results: “Donald Trump is a 76-year-old man,” she said. “He is not an impressionable child.”

Providing further proof that the ex-commander in chief should have called it quits before the day of the insurrection, the panel played clips of interviews with Trump’s labor secretary, Eugene Scalia, and his former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, in which they both stated that Trump should have conceded when presented with the overwhelming evidence that he lost to Joe Biden in 2020.

Even Trump’s own digital guru, Brad Parscale, laid the blame for the violence at his boss’s feet. He and spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, who both worked on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign together, texted each other while the pepper spray was still being aired out of the Capitol building the evening of the assault.

“This is about Trump pushing for uncertainty in our country. A sitting president asking for civil war. This week I feel guilty for helping him win,” Parscale wrote to Pierson, according to texts acquired by the committee.

“You did what you felt right at the time and therefore it was right,” Pierson responded.

“Yeah. But a woman is dead,” Parscale said, referring to Ashli Babbitt, who was shot to death by a police officer as she and other protestors tried to break into the Speaker’s Lobby on their way to the House of Representatives Chamber.

Parscale further clarified that he thought that the rioters entered the Capitol building—and that Babbit was dead—because of the former president’s “rhetoric.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Prosecutors say Steve Bannon still should face trial

July 12, 2022

The Justice Department has informed a federal judge that Steve Bannon’s last-minute offer to testify to the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021attack on the Capitol will not enable the former strategist for then-President Donald Trump to avoid trial for defying the committee’s subpoena seeking testimony and documents, reports The Wall Street Journal.

 Bannon told the committee over the weekend that he was willing to testify—preferably at a public hearing. His trial is set to begin July 18 on two counts of criminal contempt.

 He initially refused to comply with the subpoena from the January 6 committee last October. “The Defendant’s last-minute efforts to testify, almost nine months after his default—he has still made no effort to produce records—are irrelevant to whether he willfully refused to comply in October 2021 with the Select Committee’s subpoena,” prosecutors said in a filing on Monday, July 11.

 The government’s filing sought to block Bannon’s defense team from telling jurors about his last-minute willingness to testify.

 Bannon said he was now willing to testify after Trump said he would waive any privilege claim—citing what the former president called unfair treatment of his former senior aide.

 Prosecutors said that Trump “never invoked executive privilege over any particular information or materials,” and that Mr. Bannon’s privilege claim never justified total noncompliance with the subpoena.

 The prosecutors’ filing came ahead of a court hearing Monday, which had been  previously scheduled to discuss a request by Bannon to delay his trial until October and other issues in the case. U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, is overseeing the case in Washington, D.C.

 Bannon’s lawyers have argued that news coverage of the committee’s hearings could taint the jury pool and deprive him of a fair trial.

 “Select committee members have made inflammatory remarks about the culpability of President Trump and his closest advisers, including Mr. Bannon, and have broadcast to millions of people their purported ‘findings’ on issues that may prejudice the minds of jurors in this case,” Bannon’s lawyers wrote in a June 29 court filing.

 Research contact: @WSJ

Trump adviser Peter Navarro lays out how he and Bannon planned to overturn Biden’s electoral win

January 29, 2021

A former Trump White House official says he and right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon were actually behind the last-ditch coordinated effort by rogue Republicans in Congress to halt certification of the 2020 election results on January 6 and keep President Donald Trump in power earlier this year, in a plan dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep.”

In his recently published memoir—In Trump Time, published by All Seasons Press—Peter Navarro, then-President Donald Trump’s trade adviser, details how he stayed in close contact with Bannon as they put the Green Bay Sweep in motion with help from members of Congress loyal to the cause, reports The Daily Beast.

But in an interview last week with The Daily Beast, Navarro shed additional light on his role in the operation—and his and Bannon’s coordination with GOP politicians Representative Paul Gosar (Arizona) and Senator Ted Cruz (Texas).

“We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators. It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them,” Navarro told The Daily Beast. “It was a perfect plan. And it all predicated on peace and calm on Capitol Hill. We didn’t even need any protestors, because we had over 100 congressmen committed to it.”

That commitment appeared as Congress was certifying the 2020 Electoral College votes reflecting that Joe Biden had trunced Trump. Senator Cruz signed off on Gosar’s official objection to counting Arizona’s electoral ballots—an effort that was supported by dozens of other Trump loyalists.

Staffers for Cruz and Gosar did not respond to requests for comment. Also, there’s no public indication whether the January 6 Committee has sought testimony or documents from Senator Cruz or Representative Gosar.

But the committee has only recently begun to seek evidence from fellow members of Congress who were involved in the general effort to keep Trump in the White House—including GOP Representatives Jim Jordan (Ohio) and  Scott Perry (Pennsylvania).

This last-minute maneuvering never had any chance of actually decertifying the election results on its own, a point that Navarro quickly acknowledges. But their hope was to run the clock as long as possible to increase public pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence to send the electoral votes back to six contested states, where Republican-led legislatures could try to overturn the results.

And in their minds, ramping up pressure on Pence would require media coverage. While most respected news organizations refused to regurgitate unproven conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud, this plan hoped to force journalists to cover the allegations by creating a historic delay to the certification process.

“The Green Bay Sweep was very well thought out. It was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings,” he said. “But we thought that we could bypass the corporate media by getting this stuff televised.”

Navarro’s part in this ploy was to provide the raw materials, he said in an interview on Thursday. That came in the form of a three-part White House report he put together during his final weeks in the Trump administration with volume titles like, “The Immaculate Deception” and “The Art of the Steal.”

“My role was to provide the receipts for the 100 congressmen or so who would make their cases .… who could rely in part on the body of evidence I’d collected,” he told The Daily Beast. “To lay the legal predicate for the actions to be taken.” (Ultimately, states have not found any evidence of electoral fraud above the norm, which is exceedingly small.)

The next phase of the plan was up to Bannon, Navarro says. “Steve Bannon’s role was to figure out how to use this information—what he called ‘receipts’—to overturn the election result. That’s how Steve had come up with the Green Bay Sweep idea,” he wrote.

“The political and legal beauty of the strategy was this: By law, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must spend up to two hours of debate per state on each requested challenge. For the six battleground states, that would add up to as much as 24 hours of nationally televised hearings across the two chambers of Congress.”

His book also notes that Bannon was the first person he communicated with when he woke up at dawn on January 6, writing, “I check my messages and am pleased to see Steve Bannon has us fully ready to implement our Green Bay Sweep on Capitol Hill. Call the play. Run the play.”

The rest is history.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Mark Meadows knuckles under; agrees to cooperate with House January 6 Select Committee

December 1, 2021

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has agreed to cooperate with the House Select Committee in charge of investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection, the panel said on November 30, according to a report by Axios.

Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson confirmed the news with the following statement: “Mr. Meadows has been engaging with the Select Committee through his attorney. He has produced records to the committee and will soon appear for an initial deposition. The Select Committee expects all witnesses, including Mr. Meadows, to provide all information requested and that the Select Committee is lawfully entitled to receive. The committee will continue to assess his degree of compliance with our subpoena after the deposition.”

With the capitulation of Meadows, the committee has achieved a major win; and Meadows, himself, has possibly staved off prosecution. After rejecting a subpoena to appear for a deposition before the panel, it was believed that Meadows could face contempt charges.

Meadows, who failed to appear before the panel earlier this month, is believed to have insight into former President Donald Trump’s role in efforts to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election win.

According to Axios, Meadows became the second person to defy the committee’s subpoena, following former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was taken into custody on November 15 on charges of contempt of Congress.

Research contact: @axios

Steve Bannon files motion to request that all documents in his contempt-of-Congress case be made public

November 29, 2021

Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House adviser, has filed an opposition to the U.S. district court’s standard protective order for discovery, which prohibits either side from releasing documents or evidence publicly, reports The Washington Post.

.Bannon, 67, pleaded not guilty on November 17 to contempt-of-Congress charges, and his legal team previously argued that the case would be more complicated by agreeing to the prosecution’s protective order for discovery.

“Members of the public should make their own independent judgment as to whether the U.S. Department of Justice is committed to a just result based upon all the facts,” said a statement provided to The Washington Post on behalf of Bannon.

“In the opposition filed today, Mr. Bannon asked the judge to follow the normal process and allow unfettered access to and use of the documents.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda R. Vaughn has said that there are “less than 20 documents” to be provided, but Bannon attorney Evan Corcoran told reporters that there was probably going to be a need for the defense to locate more documents and witnesses.

Bannon’s legal team argued that the government offered little reason the documents should be withheld from public view, adding that many of the documents that would be restricted by the proposed protective order in this case are already public.

“The Government offered no reason why it wanted to limit Mr. Bannon’s attorneys in their use of the documents to prepare a defense,” Bannon’s statement said. 

Bannon has refused to comply with an order from the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol to provide records and testimony about his actions leading up to the attack. The committee is interested in questioning Bannon about activities at the Willard InterContinental Washington Hotel in the week leading up to January 6.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Steve Bannon surrenders to Feds after being indicted for contempt of Congress

November 16, 2021

Former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon surrendered to the FBI on Monday, November 15, after being indicted on contempt of Congress due to his refusal to cooperate with the congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot, reports HuffPost.

A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicted Bannon on Friday, November12, on two counts of contempt of Congress. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that Bannon’s indictment reflected the Justice Department’s “steadfast commitment” to showing the American people “by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law, and pursues equal justice under the law.”

Bannon is set to appear before a judge in Washington later Monday. Cameras caught Bannon arriving at the FBI’s Washington Field Office on Monday morning.

As alleged in the indictment, Bannon did not comply with subpoenas issued by the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack before the required deadlines last month. The committee was interested in Bannon because he was “present at the Willard Hotel on January 5, 2021, during an effort to persuade Members of Congress to block the certification of the election the next day” and proclaimed, the day before the attack, that “all hell is going to break loose.”

This is not Bannon’s first run-in with federal prosecutors, notes HuffPost. In 2019, Bannon testified during the trial of Roger Stone, saying that Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign saw Stone as an “access point” to WikiLeaks. And in August 2020, Bannon was indicted in connection with a scheme to fleece Trump supporters who wanted to build a border wall.

In his final hours in office in January, Trump pardoned Bannon, and had previously pardoned Stone in December 2020, just a few weeks before the Jan. 6 attack. Stone was staying at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, where the “war room” of high-level Trump supporters was set up.

The FBI has made more than 650 arrests to date in connection with the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and hundreds more arrests are in the works. While the FBI investigations will answer a lot of questions about individual criminal culpability in the January 6 attacks, it will be up to the House select committee to answer some of the broader questions about what happened that day.

House Select Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Mississippi) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) said that Bannon’s indictment “should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can ignore the Select Committee or try to stonewall our investigation: no one is above the law.” Thompson and Cheney said they would “not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

New January 6 subpoenas increase pressure on AG Garland to set an example with Bannon

November 12, 2021

The House select committee probing the January 6 insurrection placed its credibility and legal clout deeper into the hands of Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday, November 8, with a new flurry of subpoenas targeting cronies of ex-President Donald Trump, reports CNN.

However, for the committee to retain hopes of compelling testimony from the group, the Justice Department must initiate a prosecution against another Trump adviser, Steve Bannon, who already has defied a subpoena.

The former President’s populist alter ego earned a rare Contempt of Congress citation for his intransigence. But two-and-half weeks on, the department has yet to say whether it will act on that gambit and indict Bannon through the Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney’s office.

Without such a move, CNN reports, the committee’s enforcement capacity looks in serious doubt as it races to conclude before Democrats are at risk of losing the House of Representatives in next year’s midterm elections.

There are no current and public signs that Garland is feeling pressure to act quickly. In fact, a deliberative process would comply with his effort to shield the department from politicization after Trump weaponized it to protect himself during a scandal-plagued presidency and in his effort to steal the 2020 election.

But that also means the new batch of six Trump confidants, who have been subpoenaed for their alleged role in amplifying Trump’s lie about election fraud or abetting his coup attempt earlier this year, have reason to replicate the obstruction, at least for now. And even if Bannon is prosecuted, a long process of court cases and appeals could bog down the committee in a legal nightmare.

The six subpoenas issued on Monday targeted conservative lawyer John Eastman, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, Trump campaign officials Bill Stepien, Jason Miller and Angela McCallum, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn

According to CNN, such a scenario would not only allow Trump aides to outwit the committee’s efforts to find the truth about the most flagrant assault on a U.S. election in modern history. It could gut the power of Congress in the future and limit its constitutional role of serving as a check and balance on the executive branch.

And it would also mean that Trump, who incited a mob to march on Congress and disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s election win, would escape a reckoning yet again, even as he and his party paper over his autocratic tendencies ahead of a likely bid for the 2024 GOP nomination. The refusal of Trump’s orbit to submit to scrutiny is nothing new; it was a feature of both his impeachments, including over the insurrection earlier this year.

“If Merrick Garland does not prosecute Steve Bannon, all these other witnesses … they are going to have no deterrent either and they are going to see it as a free-for-all to do what they will. So there is a lot riding on what Merrick Garland decides to do here,” CNN legal analyst Elie Honig said.

Garland refused to discuss his deliberations in an unrelated media appearance Monday. The roughly two-week gap after Bannon’s contempt citation is hardly a lifetime in legal terms, however, so it would be unwise to read anything into it yet.

California Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, a member of the House select committee, said on CNN on Monday evening that the Justice Department needed time to study the case and precedent but said acting to enforce congressional subpoenas was crucial.

“If the Justice Department doesn’t hold Steve Bannon accountable, it only lends credence to the idea that some people are above the law and that cannot be true in this country,” Schiff said on “Cuomo Prime Time.”

Research contact: @CNN

Cheney drops bombshell—suggesting Trump ‘was personally involved in the planning of January 6th’

October 21, 2021

On Tuesday, October 19, Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) issued a blistering assessment of the decision by former President Donald Trump and ally Steve Bannon to stonewall the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attacks on the U.S. Capitol, reports Raw Story.

After dismantling Bannon’s claims that he is protected by executive privilege from testifying before the committee, Cheney speculated that Trump and Bannon have very personal reasons for not wanting any testimony to go forward.

“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing, however: They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th,” she said. “And we will get to the bottom of that.”

Cheney also cited Bannon’s statements on January 5th in which he seemed to anticipate that violent mayhem would break out the next day as Congress worked to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” Bannon said.

Research contact: @RawStory

Trump tells former aides to defy subpoenas from January 6 House panel

October 11, 2021

Former President Donald Trump has instructed his former aides not to comply with subpoenas from the special congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot—raising the prospect of the panel issuing criminal referrals for some of his closest advisers as early as Friday, October 8, The New York Times reports.

In a letter reviewed by the Times. Trump’s lawyer asked that witnesses not provide testimony or documents related to their “official” duties, and instead to invoke any immunities they might have “to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

The House committee has ordered four former Trump administration officials — Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; Dan Scavino Jr., a deputy chief of staff; Stephen K. Bannon, an adviser; and Kash Patel, a Pentagon chief of staff — to sit for depositions and furnish documents and other materials relevant to its investigation. They all faced a Thursday, October 7, deadline to respond.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi—and the chairman of the select committee—has threatened criminal referrals for witnesses who do not comply with the subpoenas, and said the panel expected witnesses “to cooperate fully with our probe.”

The move amounted to a declaration of war by Trump on the investigation, and raised legal questions about how far the committee could go in compelling information from a former president and his advisers, the Times said.

The committee is demanding that Meadows and Patel submit to questioning on Thursday, October 14; and Bannon and Scavino, the following day.

While President Biden already has said that extending Trump’s “executive privilege” is unlikely, it remains unclear whether his Administration will see fit to offer the privilege to those who have been subpoenaed.

The Justice Department and the White House already have waived executive privilege for a previous batch of witnesses who were asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary and House Oversight committees, which were investigating both the January 6 attack and the Trump Administration’s efforts to subvert the results of the presidential election. The Justice Department argued that privilege was conferred to protect the institution of the presidency—not to provide immunity for wrongdoing.

Taylor Budowich, a spokesperson for Trump, said that the records request by the select committee was “outrageously broad” and that it lacked “both legal precedent and legislative merit.

The instructions from Trump were reported earlier by The Guardian.

Research contact: @nytimes