Donald Trump may think he had the last laugh on Steve Bannon, but there’s a chance that Sloppy Steve is looking to “punch back twice as hard.” Lachlan Markay and other Daily Beast reporters had a scoop today that Bannon has hired top D.C.-based white collar criminal defense lawyer Bill Burck. Bannon is reportedly looking to “cooperate” with House investigators looking into Russia and the election:
Steve Bannon is lawyering up as he gets ready to face investigators looking into the Trump-Russia nexus.
The Daily Beast has learned that the former top White House strategist has retained Bill Burck, of the firm Quinn Emanuel. Two sources tell us Burck is helping Bannon prepare for an interview with the House intelligence committee, which is currently scheduled for next week. Sources also said Bannon plans to “fully cooperate” with investigators.
What does “fully cooperate” with investigators mean? Bannon was not around for many of the meetings that are a focus of the Russia investigation, but he was around for a lot of the Trump team’s reaction to it. If the House intelligence committee asks him questions about whether there was a cover-up or some attempt to obstruct the investigation, how will Bannon react? He’s been kicked to the curb by Trump and just about every other figure associated with Trump — and he hasn’t really denied many of the statements attributed to him in Michael Wolff’s book — with the glaring exception of saying that his comments about a “treasonous” meeting between Russians and Manafort, Trump Jr., and Kushner were directed at Manafort and not (as Wolff claims) “Fredo,” the dumb eldest son. Under one interpretation, what does Bannon have to lose by laying out Trump?
But my guess is that we will not get anything nearly so dramatic. For one thing, Bannon is represented by the same lawyer representing Reince Priebus and White House Counsel Don McGahn. That makes it less likely that Bannon is on some kind of kamikaze mission. Of course, this fact itself raises something of a red flag, as Ken White of Popehat explains in this quote from the Daily Beast story:
“In general, prosecutors don’t like it when the same attorney represents multiple people who are subjects—or more—because it looks like they’re controlling the story,” said Ken White, a former federal prosecutor who specializes in First Amendment issues, speaking of investigators’ targets.
So while the “fully cooperate” phrase sounds intriguing at first glance, it’s probably just plain vanilla-speak for “he will answer questions truthfully” (or what he considers to be truthful).
But that doesn’t mean there will be no drama.
My guess is that Bannon will do or say anything to shiv Jared Kushner. Anything. Paul Manafort is spent money at this point and Bannon won’t go easy on him either. But I’d put low odds indeed on any notion that Bannon will lay out anyone whose last name is Trump.
It should be interesting, though. Stay tuned!