By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Bannon and Congress

In the old days, before Donald Trump's assault on an array of American institutions, if you were called to testify before Congress on an act that might land you in jail, you just took the 5th. But in today's Congress, we find 202 Republicans voting against holding Steve Bannon in contempt for snubbing a House Jan. 6 insurrection panel subpoena.  Bannon claims "executive privilege" even though he had exited the Trump administration years ago and was a podcaster. In a Jan. 5 podcast, Bannon said this: "All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. So many people said, 'Man, if I was in a revolution, I would be in Washington.' Well, this is your time in history." That fit his Leninist "burn the establishment to the ground" mantra. House Republicans are willing to pervert congressional subpoena power for . . .  Steve Bannon. If Bannon isn't compelled to testify, why in the world would anyone else?

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks made a spectacle of himself, complaining on the House floor that Speaker Nancy Pelosi prevented him from serving on the House committee. CNN: And yet, Banks sent a letter to at least one government agency falsely claiming that he is ranking member of the committee in his signature. Fellow Republican Liz Cheney, who serves as vice chair of the committee, called Banks out for his actions. "He noted that the Speaker had determined that he wouldn't be on the committee" Cheney said. "So I would like to introduce for the record a number of letters the gentleman of Indiana has been sending to federal agencies."

According to a letter provided to CNN, Banks wrote, "I ask that you provide me any information that is submitted to the Select Committee. Additionally, please include me on any update or briefing that you provide." Banks signed the letter as ranking member of the committee, while admitting that Pelosi blocked his appointment. A spokesman for Banks did not address that the lawmaker signed the letter as ranking member in a statement to CNN when rebutting the characterization that Banks misrepresented his position. "The letter clearly states that Rep. Banks was refused the opportunity to fulfill his duties as Ranking Member," the spokesperson said. "This is a bizarre Democrat narrative meant to distract from the actual contents of Rep. Banks' letter and to avoid talking about the actual activities of the Select Committee, which are partisan, authoritarian and indefensible."

2. Rep. Pence abstains

U.S. Rep. Greg Pence did not vote the Steve Bannon contempt charge. Hannah Osantowski, a spokeswoman for Pence, said the congressman had a family medical emergency, but he would have voted no” on the resolution (Columbus Republic). Rep. Pence was seen fleeing in the U.S. Capitol around 2:30 p.m. Jan. 6 with his brother, Vice President Mike Pence, as the insurrection mob chanting "Hang Mike Pence" drew closer.

3. Mike Pence cashes in

Tom LoBianco writing in Vanity Fair: Mike and Karen Pence are living their best lives. No, really. Almost a year after Donald Trump nearly got them murdered at the Capitol by a band of rioters trying to overturn the election, the former second couple is living in a nearly $2 million mansion in suburban Indianapolis. Mike Pence has a megawatt book deal in the bag with Simon & Schuster. And the two are traveling widely, with Mike Pence getting paid upwards of $100,000 a speech. In perhaps one of the most unlikely trollings of the former president, Mike Pence also remains a top-tier candidate for the Republican nomination in 2024. In a Politico/Morning Consult poll released last week, Pence dominated among Republicans who don’t want Trump to run again, pulling in 26% support, compared to 20% who would pick Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Which is why statements like his brush-off of the insurrection that almost claimed his life befuddle normal people, but make all the sense in the world to his inner circle and those eyeing the expansive 2024 shadow field. “You should not underestimate Pence — he has broad support among the big donors and in Congress, beyond just evangelicals,” said one longtime friend. “He’s incredibly ambitious. He’s a person who sees himself as the president. In the meantime, he’s making real money for the first time in his life. Running for president is also a great way of making six-figure speeches.” 

4. Pol wins SD4 caucus; Ellington to HD45

Rodney Pol Jr. of Chesterton was elected to succeed former State Sen. Karen Tallian in SD4. Pol, who works as an attorney for the city of Gary, was endorsed at the caucus by the outgoing 16-year lawmaker. Pol won on the second ballot with 29 votes, defeating Deborah Chubb with 14 and Todd Connor with 11. The IndyStar reports that State Rep. Jeff Ellington is moving into HD45 from the new bluer HD62, which now becomes an open seat. Ellington would be challenging Republican Rep. Bruce Borders, who lost to Democrat Rep. Kreg Battles in HD45 when the 2011 maps were redrawn. Borders won the district back in 2014..

5. Trump's 'Truth Social'

Truth Social, eh? That's what Donald Trump has named his new social media platform. As a former reporter/editor/columnist for The Elkhart Truth, I find it curious that Donald Trump would incorporate the word "truth" in anything he's associated with. When I worked for The Truth, the only other publication using that name was ... Pravda.

Have a great weekend, folks. When the Colts play the 49ers in the Bay Area Sunday night, it will be during a "bomb cyclone" that will rival Atlantic hurricanes, according to NOAA. Sounds like a busy night for RBs Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack. It's The Atomic!