Opinion Leaked Steve Bannon audio is worse for Trump than it first appears

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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By Greg Sargent
Columnist |
July 14, 2022 at 11:49 a.m. EDT



“What Trump’s gonna do is just declare victory,” said Stephen K. Bannon. “Right? He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner. He’s just gonna say he’s a winner.”
Bannon, who played a key command center role on Jan. 6, 2021, said this to a group of associates on Oct. 31, 2020, according to audio obtained by Mother Jones. A few days later, President Donald Trump actually did this: He declared victory prematurely on election night, kicking off a months-long effort to cling to power illegitimately, culminating in the attack on the Capitol.
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On the audio, Bannon essentially gave away a crucial piece of Trump’s whole corrupt scheme. But not in the way it first appears. Bannon has now opened the door to a host of new inquiries centered on this question: How premeditated a part of the coup plot was a premature declaration of victory from Trump?
The answer may be that this was a more premeditated aspect of the scheme than we knew. Which would deal a severe blow to Trump’s last defenses: That he really believed he had won and was innocently exercising what he thought were legal options in response. It may even increase his criminal exposure.


Many have noted that the audio confirms Trump intended to cast doubt on the outcome no matter what happened with the voting. Bannon says on the audio that this would cause a “firestorm,” which presumably would lay the groundwork for the next stage: months of corrupt scheming to reverse the results.
We already knew Trump had contemplated declaring victory on election night no matter what. Axios reported that just before the election, Trump privately told advisers that he might do this.
But the Bannon audio should refocus us on this forgotten fact: Trump telegraphed exactly these intentions way back in July 2020. Speaking to reporters, he attacked vote-by-mail, said the winner should be declared on election night and insinuated that “millions” of mail ballots would inevitably be fraudulent.
That’s the whole scheme right there. Trump was vague, but he essentially told us about three months before the 2020 election that he would declare victory on election night even with millions of uncounted ballots outstanding, by arguing that they would be illegitimate.
Now here’s why Bannon’s audio is so relevant. On it, Bannon says much the same thing: that Trump would be favored on election night because mail votes cast by Democrats would remain outstanding, and Trump would exploit this fact to declare himself winner.
And, of course, Trump ended up doing exactly this. He declared victory and attacked outstanding ballots as part of an effort to steal the election from him. This became the foundation of coup architect John Eastman’s scheme to get Trump’s vice president to illegally subvert Joe Biden’s electors and get the states to substitute new ones.
So Bannon’s articulation of the scheme in advance raises the question: To what degree was the premature declaration of victory discussed and agreed upon beforehand?
New York University law professor Ryan Goodman says the Bannon audio should prompt a deeper inquiry into that question. The declaration of victory, Goodman notes, also was likely part of a “premeditated strategy well in advance.”
“The main pieces of evidence,” Goodman told me, indicate that “this was not something concocted on the eve of election night.”
The Bannon audio, then, calls for more scrutiny of whether this was discussed among Trump and his allies — including but not limited to Bannon — and when. “There is every reason to believe that this part of the plot laid the foundation for other parts of the scheme,” Goodman says.
This could further underscore the degree to which Trump and/or others acted all throughout with corrupt intent. Demonstrating that is key to showing that the scheme may have violated federal laws, including by obstructing the official proceeding of the electoral count or by conspiring to defraud the United States by impeding that count.
The Justice Department, which is investigating certain aspects of the Jan. 6 scheme, should now examine Trump’s and Bannon’s potential communications about the premature-declaration angle before and after that conversation on the new audio, Goodman said.
Bannon, who had been indicted after defying a Jan. 6 committee subpoena, has now pledged to cooperate. That’s likely a ruse to avoid prosecution for that defiance. But either way, the committee should ask Bannon directly about whether he and Trump discussed the premature-declaration scheme, and who else might have as well.
As Goodman put it: “The new audio points to a much more sinister plot than many have imagined.”

 

tumorboy

HR Legend
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Sep 24, 2002
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These pathetic people care more about their jobs than the state of democracy or decency. The moral emptiness of the republican party is beyond disturbing.
Love the movie Vice. When a young Dick Cheney asks his mentor Donald Rumsfeld what do we as a party believe in.
Rumsfeld: What do believe in. HA HA HA HA. That's a good one Dick HA HA.