Steve Bannon Taken into Custody: Is His Indictment Fair?

Sebastian Portillo /
Sebastian Portillo /

Longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon was indicted by a grand jury and made to appear before a judge on Monday after criminal charges were laid on him for defying a subpoena from a congressional committee about the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots.

The 67-year-old surrendered to FBI agents last Monday after a Friday indictment on two counts, one for refusing to appear at a deposition, and the other for refusing to turn over documents subpoenaed by the committee. Should he be convicted on both counts he stands to receive a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year behind bars for each of the two counts.

Before going further, it’s worthy to note that the Capitol Hill riots took place years (again, YEARS) after Bannon left his official capacity as an adviser to the former president, and whatever official questions they have to ask this now private citizen would seem to indicate that they’re looking for answers from the early days of the Trump administration. So does the panel believe that Trump planned this riot in 2017? The one and only year Bannon served as the “White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President?” Who knows, but let’s continue.

No doubt a judicious reader could find many accounts of Bannon’s mishaps in recent days, but for the sake of brevity, The Associated Press’s account seems as concise as any. In their reporting, the AP said that after appearing before a judge on Monday, Bannon “declared combatively outside court that he was ‘taking on the Biden regime’ in fighting the charges.”

He went on to say that he was “going on the offense” against several high-ranking members of government, including the attorney general, the speaker of the House, and President Biden. He declared, “This is going to be a misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden.”

At the time, Bannon didn’t enter a plea, but he was slated to go back to court on Thursday, but he didn’t get out of the courthouse without getting a good look at the inflatable rat made to look like the former president and Bannon’s former boss, Donald Trump. The crowd outside waited near the rat, with some in the crowd spewing hatred toward the former White House official, including a man with a sign that read, “Clowns are not above the law.”

Irritated sign holder guy is not wrong, clowns are not above the law. His premise, however, was that the former president is a clown that is attempting to circumvent the law. It is quite the jump in logic. And it’s a great jumping-off point to ask whether Bannon’s indictment is fair and if he did the right thing.

First, let’s not forget who Bannon did and didn’t comply with: He turned himself in to the FBI, maybe that’s because he was concerned about his safety, maybe it’s because he recognized their authority. He accepted his judgment as handed down by a grand jury, clearly recognizing the necessity and authority of juries and federal prosecutors.

What Bannon didn’t do, and who Bannon didn’t comply with, was this “select committee” of lawmakers who are looking into the events of Jan. 6, something that took place several years after his leaving his official capacity. It is also run by lawmakers that Bannon has been very clear he doesn’t believe are qualified for office (for a plethora of reasons, one being election problems, one being that they’re not looking out for the American people, and that’s just to name a few).

So if the committee isn’t valid, they don’t have the right to subpoena. Now, the FBI does have the right to arrest people on an indictment from a grand jury, and that’s what Bannon plans to fight. But…legally. So yes, angry sign man, it seems Bannon agrees, even clowns must obey the law, and the former Trump official plans to make sure they do.