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Press: Is Stephen Bannon ready to turn on Donald Trump?

Don’t be fooled. Suddenly the media’s all excited about the fact that former White House counselor Stephen Bannon has agreed to testify before the January 6 Select Committee. Not only that, Bannon got former President Trump’s permission to testify. And Bannon says he wants to testify in public. On national television! 

All of which has generated a Niagara of wild speculation: Has Bannon finally seen the error of his ways? Is this Bannon’s come-to-Jesus moment? Will Bannon become the latest former top White House aide to turn on Trump and tell the truth about Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 riot? Will Bannon be the new John Dean? 

Don’t be fooled. This is no miracle cure. This is all part of a plot cooked up by Trump and Bannon to sabotage the work of the committee. Trust Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and other members of the Jan. 6 committee to see what’s really behind Bannon’s sudden “conversion.” It’s so obvious. 

Consider the context. Many congressional Republicans believe House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blew it by refusing Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) offer to create a truly bipartisan investigative committee, one on which Republican members could call their own witnesses and cross-examine those witnesses who did appear. Trump himself has accused McCarthy of making a big mistake. “This committee, it was a bad decision not to have representation on that committee,” he told conservative radio talk show host Wayne Allyn Root. “That was a very, very foolish decision.” 

Alarmed by the national attention the Jan. 6 committee’s been getting with its dramatic series of hearings, and frustrated that there’s nobody telling his side of the story, Trump  apparently came up with a plan: Unleash Bannon , which Bannon, of course, was only too willing to go for. After all, in their warped minds, it’s a two-fer. Bannon gets out of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for his earlier refusal to testify, for which he’s due for trial July 18. And Trump gets “his man” before what he has called the “Unselect committee of political Thugs and Hacks who have allowed no Due Process, no Cross-Examination, and no real Republican members or witnesses.” 

For both, it’s the perfect plan: Trump makes his “Big Lie” part of the committee record, and Bannon stays out of jail. The perfect plan — except it won’t work, because members of the select committee are not dumb enough to fall for it. And neither, Bannon learned yesterday, is the Justice Department, which dismissed his sudden willingness to testify before Congress as a political stunt.

First, they know Bannon was no innocent bystander on Jan. 6.  According to various media reports, he was up to his armpits in efforts to overturn the election. In his podcast, he took credit for turning out the crowd for the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington. In the days leading up to Jan. 6, he  reportedly was in frequent contact with Trump and  his allies ; he hosted  Trump advisers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman on his podcast. He frequented the  Trump “war room” at the Willard Hotel, according to reports. and he worked to get the head of the Proud Boys out of jail. And on Jan. 5, he promised his podcast audience: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” 

Second, they won’t let Bannon dictate his own terms. The committee’s not going to give Bannon a platform on national television to plead the Fifth or tell his own pack of lies before he testifies in private, like every other witness.  

One last time: Don’t be fooled. Bannon’s not out to save democracy by telling the truth. Bannon’s out to save his own butt, and Trump’s butt, by telling another pack of lies. 

Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is the author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.” 

Tags Donald Trump jan 6 hearings Stephen Bannon Steve Bannon testify

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