Some things just keep coming back, over and over again, for no discernible reason. They are not usually good things, but more like things that once you think you’ve gotten rid of it, you hope never to see it again. Bathtub mold, stink bugs, a 6-month old potato, that ugly sweater from your Aunt Hester, etc. Today, we have the displeasure of the return of Steve Bannon into our lives. I thought we had gotten rid of him and he was over in France, helping Marine LePen, or some such thing. The headline in The Washington Post read …
Bannon Pitches White House on Plan to Cripple Mueller Probe and Protect Trump
Why, oh WHY??? Whatever have we done to deserve yet another round of Bannon?
His plan, in a nutshell, isn’t really anything that we haven’t all discussed over the past 2-3 days anyway:
- Fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the work of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and in recent days signed off on a search warrant of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen.
- White House cease its cooperation with Mueller, reversing the policy of Trump’s legal team to provide information to the special counsel’s team and to allow staff members to sit for interviews.
- Create a new ‘legal battleground’ to protect himself from the investigation by asserting executive privilege — and arguing that Mueller’s interviews with White House officials over the past year should now be null and void.
- Fire lawyer Ty Cobb, who has encouraged White House cooperation with Mueller’s team.
The first and second on the list are predictable and Trump has, no doubt, thought of those all by himself. The third is unique, and legal analysts say they doubt it would be possible to render past testimony as null and void, since those who testified did so willingly and of their own volition. His rationale for firing Ty Cobb is that then Trump can say he was given bad advice by his lawyers. John Dowd already resigned, and Don McGahn has said he would leave if Mueller were fired, so if Cobb were also out of the picture, then Trump would be free and clear to say they all gave him bad advice.
Now, those close to Trump say that Bannon is still persona non grata because of the revelations critical of Trump and his family that were included in Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, published in January. If so, there is some doubt whether Trump would welcome Bannon back into the inner circle, but … in my view, Trump would welcome a wild boar hog if he thought said hog could help him out of this mess. Consider that Trump has recently told friends and aides that he is willing to engage in political warfare in the coming months to stop his presidency from being consumed by the investigation. I believe there is no low to which he would not stoop in order to save his own arse.
Bannon, meanwhile, has reportedly been meeting ‘through back channels’ with Trump confidants, proposing the above ideas, and knowing Bannon, a few more that we don’t know about. Most agree, however, that almost anything Trump does at this juncture will serve only to make him appear even more incredibly guilty than he already is. Almost any move he makes in any direction is likely to set off a domino effect, possibly causing a mass exodus from the Department of Justice and even more divisiveness within Congress. None of which, of course, is good for a nation already divided and nearly a tinderbox, to say the least.
As I noted, after his ouster from both the White House and Breitbart, Bannon took his show on the road, spreading his populist ideas in Europe. In March, according to the New York Times, he was in France, supporting Marine LePen, and then in Hungary, working with Prime Minister Viktor Orban. In Zurich, Switzerland, he met with leaders of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany party, and then he settled in Italy. He claims to be working on a project to create a think tank to “weaponize” populist economic and social ideas in the U.S. And as for his ‘work’ in Europe, he is doing nothing more, he says, than building a vast network of European populists to demolish the Continent’s political establishment. “All I’m trying to be is the infrastructure, globally, for the global populist movement.” Just that.
Go back to Europe, Mr. Bannon. Go to a desert island in the Pacific. Go to Russia. Go anywhere, but just get the heck out of the U.S. We have enough troubles without you adding to them.