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Analysis: When is Merrick Garland going to make up his mind about Steve Bannon?

Which is roughly 16 days too long for some liberals, who have begun complaining about Attorney General Merrick Garland’s lack of action on pursuing a criminal contempt charge against Bannon.
“How the f*ck is Steve Bannon still a free man?” asked Kurt Bardella, a Democratic strategist, on Twitter Friday — expressing a not-uncommon viewpoint among liberals on the social media site.
One liberal group — Free Speech for People — went so far as to call on Garland to resign — suggesting that since he “is unwilling to step up, it is time for him to step down.”
DOJ officials unfazed by calls to expedite Bannon contempt decisionDOJ officials unfazed by calls to expedite Bannon contempt decision
Amid this rising chorus of criticism, Garland — and his Justice Department — have been silent.
“The Department of Justice will do what it always does in such circumstances: We’ll apply the facts and the law and make a decision, consistent with the principles of prosecution,” Garland said during testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee on the same day that the House officially held Bannon in contempt.
While President Joe Biden has repeatedly emphasized that he will not meddle in affairs of the Justice Department — seeking to strike a clear contrast with the active role that President Donald Trump played in trying to steer the actions of the department — he did complicate that position shortly after the House contempt vote.
Asked whether people who resisted subpoenas to testify before the January 6 committee should be prosecuted by the Justice Department, Biden said: “I do, yes.”
While Justice quickly released a statement that emphasized it makes “its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop,” the damage had been done.
“The Justice Department’s trying to unwind and walk back Joe Biden’s massive mistake,” Bannon said on his “War Room” podcast. “He says, ‘No, they all oughta be put in jail, they all oughta be criminal contempt,’ everything like that. That’s not the way it works, Joe.”
Garland’s position is an unenviable one — caught between liberal demands that Bannon be thrown in jail for refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoena and a desire to keep the Justice Department above any allegations of settling political scores for the administration.
“I am not the President’s lawyer, I am the United States’ lawyer,” Garland said at his confirmation hearing. (He was confirmed 70-30, with 20 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in voting in favor.)
Regardless of Garland’s decision, there are plenty of reasons why the January 6 select committee wants to hear from Bannon.
In the waning days of December, Bannon was on the phone with Trump, urging the then-President to make January 6 — the date of the official certification of the Electoral College vote by Congress — a sort of final stand in his war on (nonexistent) voter fraud.
” ‘You’ve got to call Pence off the [expletive] ski slopes and get him back here today. This is a crisis.’ Bannon said, referring to the vice president who was vacationing in Vail, Colorado.
“Bannon told Trump to focus on January 6. That was the moment for a reckoning.
” ‘People are going to go ‘What the [expletive] is going on here?’ Bannon believed. ‘We’re going to bury Biden on January 6th, [expletive] bury him.’
“If Republicans could cast enough of a shadow on Biden’s victory on January 6, Bannon said, it would be hard for Biden to govern. Millions of Americans would consider him illegitimate. They would ignore him. They would dismiss him and wait for Trump to run again.
” ‘We are going to kill it in the crib. Kill the Biden presidency in the crib,’ he said.”
Bannon also talked to Trump on the night of January 5 — after Vice President Mike Pence had informed Trump that he would not be overturning the Electoral College votes the following day in Congress.
As Woodward and Costa recounted that conversation:
“Trump brought up his meeting with Pence. He said the vice president’s whole demeanor had changed — Pence was not the man he had long known.
” ‘He was very arrogant,’ Trump said.
“Bannon agreed.”
Bannon himself has owned up to his role in plotting with Trump to undermine the Biden presidency on January 6 — and he’s even sort of declared victory.
“It killed itself,” Bannon said of the Biden presidency, according to an account in Newsweek. “Just look at what this illegitimate regime is doing. It killed itself. OK? But we told you from the very beginning, just expose it, just expose it, never back down, never give up and this thing will implode.”
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