Why the Bannon subpoena is important

B. Jay Cooper
2 min readOct 21, 2021

Our institutions have been under attack for five years, and the attacks continue.

One, now, is the pursuit of charges against former President Trump’s key advisor, Steve Bannon, who, hiding behind Trump’s demands of executive privilege, is refusing to respect a subpoena issued by the committee investigating the January 6th riot/protest/insurrection/”normal day” on the Hill.

Some might say that with all the bigger issues facing our country, the Congress should not be pursuing charges against Bannon.

They key here, though, is if Bannon is allowed to ignore a Congressional subpoena, one more institution will take a major blow. A key purpose of the Congress is to keep the executive branch in check. Hearings and legislation are a couple of the ways Congress does that. Ignoring a Congressional subpoena and being allowed to get away with it, is huge. It sets a precedent that ties the hands of the Congress in future hearings.

If Bannon is allowed to ignore the subpoena, and no action is taken to hold him accountable — what will that do to the next time Congress issues a subpoena? And, while some Republicans are saying the January 6 Commission is not needed, what will happen when they are back in the majorities — as they will be some day — and they subpoena a witness? Will they stand back as they are now and accept someone ignoring that subpoena?

More likely, they will subpoena that witness and will need to hold whoever it is accountable for whatever they may, or may not, know.

Bannon clearly knows things, based on his comments January 5 on his pod cast, conversations he had with the President before and possibly during the riot.

If he didn’t mean those comments, but was just doing it to be provocative, then he has nothing to hide.

Those last three words are key when it comes to Trump wanting to protect documents. If he has nothing to hide, why hide information?

Now, Bannon could honor the subpoena and testify (unlikely) but what is likely is that if he takes seriously serving as a Congressional witness — under oath — he still could plead the Fifth Amendment and/or lie in his answers.

One might say, if he can take the Fifth or lie, why demand his presence as a witness?

Well, that brings me back to the first sentence of this post. Our institutions are under clear attack and if that continues and succeeds, our democracy is at significant risk.

If the Congress cannot hold the Executive branch accountable, the Constitution means nothing.

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B. Jay Cooper

Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog: bjaycooper.com.