Steve Bannon goes broke. The lazy podcaster claims “executive and legal client privileges” as the basis for refusing to comply with a subpoena for documents and testimony in Congress’ investigation into the events surrounding the Capitol Riot.
Let me save you googling: Steve Bannon is not a lawyer and was kicked out of the White House in 2017.
However, he received a presidential pardon for defrauding investors in a homemade border wall project, which may explain his willingness to make such an overtly ridiculous argument, but it is far from daring that Congress despise him.
Maggie Haberman received the BOFA letter to the special committee from Bannon’s attorney Robert Costello, from Garth Brooks Pardon Dangle Fame. Fortunately, Costello also represents Rudy Giuliani, so he has built a tolerance for clients with alarming body discharge. God bless Scotchgard!
NEW – Bannon dismissed the congressional subpoena, the attorney citing the Trump team requesting executive privilege even though Bannon was not working for the executive when these events took place. Says they’ll wait for the problem to be resolved before continuing. pic.twitter.com/8kT9mGKKXB
– Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 8, 2021
“On the afternoon of October 6, 2021, I received a letter from Justin Clark as the lawyer for then-US President Donald J. Trump,” he begins. Because haha, who is president today, did I trigger you, Lib?
Apparently, Clark’s letter referred to “information that is potentially protected from disclosure by executive and other privileges, including but not limited to communications from the president, the advisory process, and attorney and client privileges.” None of this is remotely applicable to conversations between a cockroach who thinks it’s Gregor Samsa and an OAN-mad maniac who huddled in the Oval Office to devour Big Macs.
Clark then went on to instruct Bannon to “exercise any immunities and privileges he may have, as appropriate,” despite the subpoenas for documents and testimony.
“Therefore, we understand that since President Trump owns executive privileges and he has announced through his attorney his intention to exercise the executive privileges enumerated above, we must accept his instruction and honor his appeal to privileges,” Costello continued and conveniently avoids the fact that no such privilege has yet been asserted beyond a general exhortation to invoke it “if necessary.”
“We will follow instructions from the courts when and when they rule on these rights to the privileges of executive and legal clients,” he concluded. “Since these privileges belong to President Trump and not Mr. Bannon, Mr. Bannon will not be legally able to honor your subpoena requests for documents and testimony until these issues are resolved.”
It’s a familiar refrain to anyone who paid attention during the Trump years. Make an outwardly nonsensical reference to sweeping privileges that you claim belong to the executive, never invoke those privileges in relation to certain information that might be questioned, and drive you confidently that no one will discourage you has to argue about it.
“I do not claim executive privileges because that is the power of the president and I have no power there,” smiled Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June 2017 and refused to answer congressional questions about his conversation with the president.
And they got away with it for four years and even managed to shorten the clock on Don McGahn’s testimony by dragging her to court. Of course, this strategy depends on Uncle Bill taking cover with the DOJ and putting all criminal references for disregarding Congress in the circular file before heading off to a highball at the Trump Hotel.
Will Attorney General Merrick Garland take this shit, especially since he made it clear there will be no appeals to executive privileges for IRL government officials in relation to their conversations with the former president?
Guess we’re about to find out.
Liz Dye (@ 5DollarFeminist) lives in Baltimore, where she writes about law and politics.