COLUMN: Law just another roulette game for Bannon

Kathy Tibbits

Is everyone in America aware that Steve Bannon is under indictment by a federal grand jury for refusing to answer to Congress about his role in plotting to overthrow the Constitution and attempting to reinstall the disgraced former president?

Charges have been filed. To be sure, Bannon didn’t act alone, and the treason riot wouldn’t have happened without Donald Trump’s blessing.

I’ve had questions about my own Oklahoma District 2 Congressman Markwayne Mullin, who said in a telephonic town hall meeting about two days prior to the riot that the goal was to abrogate the certifications of Electoral College slates from “swing” states. All this, after Trump was taped wheedling for election fraud in Georgia and seeking teamies in other states to supplant the actual vote by using a tiebreaker loophole.

That provision, baked into laws in many states, says if the Electoral College results can’t be finalized for some reason, state legislatures can step in and usurp the election results, even if as "faithless electors." Oklahoma’s own former lawmaker and former Intercollegiate Legislature supporter Cleta Deathrage Mitchell was an attorney for Trump on that call, but after being shamed by her compatriots in Oklahoma, she withdrew from representing Trump. I guess it looked too much like "attorney teaches client the narrow legal path to destroy the Constitution," but Trump was untrainable.

This isn’t Bannon’s first rodeo. Eighteen months ago, he was caught fundraising from private citizens to "Build The Wall" while he was simply using those funds for personal luxuries. He finally turned up in international waters off the jurisdictional coast of America on Chinese national Guo Wengui’s luxury yacht. Like cream, he rises.

Bannon is variously in and out of favor with Trump. He probably gave us the Cambridge Analytica online internet data-mining scheme, which targeted vulnerable voters by personality type to convert them to a special brand of far-out crazy. He is in large part credited with enfranchising a core of voters who would take a bullet, or lay down a bullet, for their cult idol. The cynicism is palpable.

We can all spare the description of those who answered the racist dog whistle. Those special voters were hand-picked and cultivated with a specific algorithm. Bannon helped Trump identify and mobilize a segment of the population that felt they had been passed over and disengaged. They were manipulated into pledging their fealty and undying loyalty to a man who viewed them as simply warm bodies with the right to vote – Proud Boys who spend their money on guns, for example. Grooming is lax in the NeoCon ranks, and Bannon sets the example for slovenliness.

Careful fact checker-journalist Seth Abramson postulates that Bannon is eager to go to jail for contempt of Congress as a martyr, because Bannon feels so sure Trump’s handlers will find a way to worm Trump back into office as president of the United States of America. The maximum sentence is a year in jail.

As Glenn Kirschner points out in a recent "Justice Matters" podcast, the punishment can be cured by simply complying, if things get rough. Abramson hopes that, in the interest of justice, Bannon isn’t allowed to self-surrender or be released on his own recognizance before trial. The best way to end the clown car gamesmanship, Abramson accurately points out, is to seek maximum punishment on each charge and stack sentencing that will run consecutively.

By raising the stakes, Bannon better be willing to do the time for the crime. A friend of mine quipped about the sloppy man, “He looks like he is already dressed for prison.”

Kathy Tibbits is a Cherokee citizen, attorney, and artist living at Lake Tenkiller.

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