Steve Bannon's Trial Raises the Question: Have Democrats Resurrected McCarthyism?


Are you or have you ever been associated with Donald Trump?

Steve Bannon: Yes.

Justice Department: Off to jail you go.

Exaggeration? Perhaps, but it’s the theme of efforts to prosecute the former president’s associates, advisers, lawyers, supporters and his dog.

OK — germaphobe Trump probably doesn’t have a dog, but you get the idea.

Unreal: GOP Candidate and MLB Star Steve Garvey Takes Lead Over Rep. Adam Schiff in California Senate Race

Bannon, a former naval officer, investment banker, media executive and Trump adviser, received a four-month prison sentence on Friday for refusing a subpoena to testify before the House committee on the Jan. 6 disturbances, The Associated Press reported.

Bannon’s experience seems to hearken back to about 1950, when accusations by Wisconsin Sen. Joe McCarthy and investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee resulted in questions regarding one’s relationship to communism.

The term “McCarthyism” came about for what were perceived to be excesses in the accusations and investigations. And there was the repeated question: Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?

McCarthyism is back, and this time its target is Donald Trump and anyone who ever said hello to him.

Is the Justice Department unfairly targeting Trump allies?

Steve Bannon is a case in point.

The Jan. 6 committee wanted Bannon to testify about “his involvement in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election,” the AP reported. Bannon’s defense was executive privilege.

In addition to his critical view of the 2020 election, Bannon has publicly criticized the Jan. 6 committee.

Bannon is currently free on appeal. Meanwhile, he’s also facing charges of money laundering and conspiracy involving a campaign to build a wall on the southern border.

Prior to imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said, “In my view, Mr. Bannon has not taken responsibility for his actions,” adding that “others must be deterred from committing similar crimes.”

Trump Ally Makes Joke About 'End of Democracy,' Making Anti-Trumpers Lose Their Minds

J.P. Cooney, who prosecuted the case, said Bannon was “[hiding] behind fabricated claims of executive privilege and advice of counsel to thumb his nose at Congress.”

Bannons’ lawyer, David Schoen, blasted the Jan. 6 committee and said his client had merely followed the instructions of legal counsel.

“Quite frankly, Mr. Bannon should make no apology. No American should make any apology for the manner in which Mr. Bannon proceeded in this case,” Schoen said.

He also said, “Telling the truth about this committee or speaking one’s mind about this committee, it’s not only acceptable in this country, it’s an obligation if one believes it to be true.”

Bannon himself continued his tart comments on Friday, telling reporters, “This illegitimate regime, their judgment day is on Nov. 8 when the Biden administration ends.” He also predicted Attorney General Merrick Garland would be impeached.

Setting aside the personal attacks on Trump and the besmirching of the office of president, the neo-McCarthyist war on Trump allies is in full swing.

Ask one of his lawyers, former New York City Major Rudy Giuliani. He got his law license suspended for being one of many who questioned the outcome of the 2020 election.

Ask Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who, like Bannon, has refused a subpoena to testify regarding Jan. 6. He was sued by the Justice Department for not turning White House records over to the National Archives and for — try not to laugh at this one, Hillary Clinton fans — using a personal email account for government work.

Ask the My Pillow guy, Mike Lindell. Having spent millions to demonstrate 2020 election fraud, he’s had his cell phone confiscated by the FBI.

Ask Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, who, as she pointed out 2020 election irregularities, was indicted for being part of a “deceptive scheme” involving voting equipment, according to KKTV-TV.

Ask Trump adviser Roger Stone, convicted of lying about Russian collusion in the 2016 election. We all know the story of that “collusion.”

Ask Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying about his relationship to a Russian ambassador and then withdrew the plea, claiming FBI entrapment. He was eventually pardoned by Trump.

The last person to be found guilty of contempt of Congress was Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy in 1974, according to Snopes.

Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder received a House contempt of Congress citation in 2012, but the Justice Department cited a “longstanding” practice of not prosecuting in his situation given the recognition of executive privilege claimed by President Barack Obama, CNN reported.

It was during the Obama presidency that the Justice Department came to be known as the “just us” department. Stray outside of establishment circles and you’ve got a problem, as we are seeing in the neo-McCarthyism involving Trump.

Where does it stop? And with whom?

Here’s a question for you: Are you or have you ever been a supporter of Donald Trump?

And if you’re a Democrat, you’d better hope that when Republicans take power, their memories will be short and that the precedents you’ve set will go away.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , ,
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.