Members Only | October 14, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

The J6 committee dares Merrick Garland to do something

Steve Bannon is already awaiting sentencing for defying the J6 Committee’s subpoena. It could happen again. 

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The J6 Committee summed up Thursday its case that Donald Trump was the central motive force behind the J6 attack on the Capitol. 

The focus of the hearing was the former president’s state of mind, and his actions before, during, and after the insurrection. The evidence on this front is so voluminous that the committee could only get through a fraction of it during the televised hearing. 

The hearing culminated with a vote to subpoena Trump to testify. There was speculation about whether the committee would make a formal criminal referral. Instead of formally asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to charge Trump with a crime, the committee laid out an airtight case for why Trump should have to answer questions about his lawless behavior under oath. If Trump doesn’t comply with the subpoena, he will be in contempt of the Congress. 

Instead of formally asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to charge Trump with a crime, the committee laid out an airtight case for why Trump should have to answer questions about his lawless behavior under oath. If Trump doesn’t comply with the subpoena, he will be in contempt of the Congress. 

Today’s hearing recapped how Trump and his closest advisors had decided long in advance that Trump would cry fraud and reject the results of the 2020 election if he didn’t win. 

The committee also recapped the evidence that Trump knew perfectly well that there was no outcome-altering fraud. Trump’s attorney general, his campaign’s data gurus and the federal courts spoke with one voice: He lost. 

Trump kept planning the coup anyway, whipping up his supporters with bogus allegations of fraud and summoning them to Washington, DC, on the day the election was to be certified. 

As usual, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon couldn’t stop running his mouth. 

Bannon was in regular contact with the White House in the days before the insurrection and one of his advisors later said that his assistance was a key factor in Trump’s decision to pardon Bannon for an unrelated fraud charge. 

On Halloween of 2020, Bannon explained to a crowd of Chinese associates how Trump intended to preemptively declare himself the winner of the election before the votes were counted, even if he knew he lost. 

“And what Trump is going to do is just declare victory, right? He’s gonna declare victory, but that doesn’t mean he’s the winner, he’s just going to say he’s the winner,” Bannon said, adding that “[I]f Trump is losing by 10, 11 at night, it’s going to be even crazier. Because he’s going to sit right there and say they stole it.” 

Bannon used his popular podcast to keep the maga faithful updated on efforts to overturn the election. Each episode of the show, known as the The War Room, reportedly gets millions of downloads. 


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During this time, Bannon was huddling at the Willard Hotel with Trump and his closest advisors, including John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, plotting to overturn the election, a clique also known as the War Room. Bannon flaunted his inside knowledge of the Trump camp’s plans for J6 on his podcast. “It’s not going to happen like you think it’s going to happen,” Bannon told his podcast listeners, “All I can say is strap in.” Bannon also used his podcast to try to help get Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio sprung from jail on January 5. 

The Proud Boys served as the vanguard in the attack. The group even had a detailed written plan to seize and occupy the building. Tarrio was absent on J6 because a DC judge ordered him to get out of town as a condition of his bail on weapons and vandalism charges.

The committee also revealed that on November 11, Trump signed an order to immediately withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan and Somalia; he wanted it all done before he left office on January 20. 

The committee introduced this as evidence that Trump knew perfectly well he was leaving office on January 20 because he knew he’d lost. I never want to hear about Biden’s rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan again.

The committee took the opportunity to remind us that Congress also has the power to summon a former president to testify. A subpoena is not optional. By voting to compel Trump’s testimony, the committee has thrown down the gauntlet. If Trump doesn’t at least show up to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, he’ll be committing the same crime as Bannon. 

Instead of earnestly petitioning Merrick Garland to act with a criminal referral, the committee is daring Garland to do something. 

Steve Bannon is already awaiting sentencing for defying the J6 Committee’s subpoena. It could happen again. 


Lindsay Beyerstein covers legal affairs, health care and politics for the Editorial Board. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, she’s a judge for the Sidney Hillman Foundation. Find her @beyerstein.

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