Who knew the U.S. Postal Investigative Service has nautical units to deploy when the mission demands? The Steve Bannon I know probably appreciated the absurdity of this aspect of his arrest. Being indicted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) less so, one can only imagine.

Are we looking at a legitimate and long-overdue enforcement action against the president’s former Svengali, or — as its timing in the midst of the Democratic National Convention suggests — something more political?

To the extent there is a thirst for justice in America today, two months out from an election, it’s safe to bet that half the country is ebullient about Bannon’s being charged with fraud related to his crowd-funding to build a border wall with Mexico out of hemp. To the other half, it looks a lot like previous investigations of the president’s cronies from Paul Manafort to Roger Stone, i.e., politically motivated.

Who’s charging, how did the news break, and how it relates to the country’s enflamed state right now all demand at least a quick look.

When James Comey was the newly minted U.S. Attorney for SDNY, he asked of all his prosecutors in an early staff meeting how many of them had lost a case. No hands went up.

“You’re all cowards then,” he said, referring to that district’s tendency to pick slam-dunk cases. For SDNY to indict Bannon, they must have a case they believe is bulletproof.

But why now? Last night, the Democratic nominee for vice president gave her address to the virtual convention. The next morning a man on Saturday Night Live depicted as death himself is indicted by one of the nation’s most elite group of prosecutors. It could of course be a coincidence, but if memory serves, two weeks ago Democratic members of Congress were demanding of Attorney General Bill Barr that no indictments in the Durham investigation of the origins of Russia-gate be made public until after the election.

Finally, there is the question closest to any politician’s mind: How does this help me? Ironically, this could backfire and help Trump. Knowing nothing of the facts of this case, but a little bit about Bannon, I don’t see him going down easily. The time between the FBI popping Stone (with CNN in tow) during a pre-dawn raid on his Florida home and his eventual conviction and sentencing by a D.C. court was about 18 months when you throw in the president’s commutation. For the next two months, these will be pending charges — unless Bannon folds.

This could either add to the drumbeat of Trump associates convicted of crimes committed in his orbit, or to the sense that one side is persecuting the other.

After all, until now one of the most noteworthy aspects of SDNY behavior was how few people they were prosecuting. Tony Podesta? Vin Weber? They even kicked former Bill Clinton and Barack Obama counselor Greg Craig back to Washington for charging because they didn’t want their fingerprints on that (Craig won at trial, ed. note: defeating the same charge to which I pleaded guilty in 2018).

Bad as it may be to suggest there may be more than meets the eye to the case against Bannon, I also need to own up to my own bias in being fascinated by the guy and liking him the few times we met.

Before joining the Trump campaign, he interviewed me for Breitbart about a plan I was promoting to defeat ISIS and after he left the White House we continued talking about peace in the Middle East.

It is possible of course that he is guilty as charged, and that this will be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Maybe this is just the beginning, in which case one might guess Rudy Giuliani is next. But these are all unknowables right now.

Remember, just before the FBI reopened its investigation into candidate Clinton, the world was certain she was sailing toward an assured election. Perhaps that’s another reason it’s a good thing for the government it was the postal police that nabbed Bannon.

Having felt that rush to judgment and unleashed fury at Trump gone sideways myself, I’d suggest we ask ourselves if we want to be the kind of country where Steve Bannon cannot get a fair trial.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.