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No former president has ever been criminally referred by Congress for prosecution. Until now.
“That evidence has led to an overriding and straight-forward conclusion: the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed. None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him,” the January 6th summary report reads.
In the summer of 2021, months after a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the Democratic-led U.S. House formed an investigative committee to look into what led up to the domestic terrorist attack.
Republicans often claim the panel is “partisan,” but Senate Republicans blocked the formation of bipartisan investigation. Then when the House took it up, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy tried to stick Congressional insurrectionist supporters on the panel and then refused to participate when Speaker Nancy Pelosi basically told him potential witnesses can’t investigate themselves.
McCarthy would go on to ignore congressional subpoenas, along with several of his Republican colleagues, and yet soon will be in charge of issuing these same congressional subpoenas with the expectation that they are legitimate. It’s obvious that he shouldn’t have that authority since he doesn’t respect it enough to comply, but this is the modern-day Republican Party.
In fact, the 1/6 Committee referred Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and 2 other House Republicans to the Ethics Committee for sanctions for failing to comply with a lawful congressional subpoena.
Still, the panel is bipartisan due to two lone Republicans with the courage to stand up to the Trump coalition destroying their party: Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill).
After 17 months of investigation, including more than 1,000 interviews, 10 stunning public hearings which drew ratings “in the ballpark of big television events like a ‘Sunday Night Football’ games” and more than a million documents, a 154-page “executive summary” report was released on Monday and the conclusion was: All January 6th roads lead to Donald Trump. Without Trump, January 6th, 2021 would not have happened.
Every president in American history has defended the orderly transfer of power, “except one,” Liz Cheney said. And thus, a bipartisan select committee referred Donald J. Trump on at least 4 criminal charges.
This is a historic moment. A former president has never been referred for criminal charges by Congress before. The charges are at least obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, making false statements and or conspiracy to submit false statements to the government related to the fake elector scheme and assisting or aiding an insurrection.
The attack on the United States Capitol was vintage Trump: It was based on repeated lies about an election he lost by over 7 million votes, yet another attempt to make image matter over reality. Trump did nothing to help lawmakers and then Vice President Pence who were under attack and whose lives were being threatened. He sat in the dining room watching the violence unfold and did nothing.
New evidence offered Monday included the fact that Trump allies had invoked the fifth when asked to provide proof of their claims about a “stolen election.”
Also, Trump aide Hope Hicks told the committee that Trump told her, “The only thing that matters is winning” and Ivanka Trump was identified as one of several senior White House officials whose testimony was not “entirely frank or forthcoming.”
Trump’s signature mob “leadership” style was touched on again as the committee recommended that the Justice Department should look into whether Trump allies committed a criminal offense by interfering with an official proceeding due to their repeated contacts with witnesses. We first heard about witness tampering last summer, but on Monday Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) shared yet another attempt at witness tampering. Bribing or threatening or paying legal fees are all Trump-stamped ways of handling legal messes he gets into, including the Mueller investigation.
“We’ve learned that a (witness) was offered potential employment that would make her, quote, ‘financially very comfortable’ as the date of her testimony approached, by entities that were apparently linked to Donald Trump and his associates. These offers were withdrawn or didn’t materialize as reports of the content of her testimony circulated. The witness believed this was an effort to affect her testimony, and we are concerned that these efforts may have been a strategy to prevent the committee from finding the truth.”
Obstruction of justice might just be re-labeled “Trump Cope.”
Throughout his “career” as a lucky person, who inherited enough money to never learn how to actually conduct business, Trump has used lawyers as his personal thugs. As soon as he took office, he continued on in the White House as he ran his property and brand rackets.
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So his henchmen interfered in the Mueller investigation. And then they interfered in the first impeachment by finally supplying what they called a transcript, but wasn’t actually a transcript but rather a memo of one of his calls with Ukrainian President Zelensky (Trump claimed there was a second call that he implied had taped but this was never released). That call, attempting to extort Zelensky to manufacture dirt on Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden, led to his first impeachment.
We also see Trump’s penchant for obstruction in the lies he told in response to a subpoena about the top secret documents he stole and lied about having and then lied about returning.
Obstruct obstruct obstruct. That is how Trump has escaped justice his entire life.
Has that finally come to an end?
Trump refused to appear to the committee to defend himself, although he regularly claims that they shut him out, he was actually invited to speak via a subpoena, which he sued the committee over - and again, obstructed. Trump did not show up. His lawyers claimed "absolute testimonial immunity,” which is not a thing for a violent coup that was not related to Trump’s duties as President.
The committee was very careful to not allow Trumpworld to use the committee’s televised hearings to spread further propaganda, and this frustrated some witnesses who claimed that they weren’t allowed to tell their side. But, it’s likely Trump has always known he can refuse to speak on the record when it could have consequences, while telling his cult a completely different story, and they will continue to pay him.
Trump said in response on Truth Social, “These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me. It strengthens me. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
Trump supporters have not only committed violence for him, but they have threatened a Civil War if he is prosecuted. In this light, we not only need some entity of our government to finally stand up to Trump and his vigilante militia of criminals, but we also need to examine his consistent enablers, including the quiet ones.
Senator Mitch McConnell said at Trump’s second impeachment trial over this violent self-coup attack, “There’s no question—none—that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” He repeated this sentiment yesterday saying, “The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day. Beyond that, I don’t have any immediate observations.”
Lest we get the false notion that Republicans have found a spine just because they didn’t rally to the defense of the man who just hurt them politically in the midterms, revealing his own weakness as a party leader, McConnell has failed to be accountable for his no vote against conviction of Trump for the exact same insurrection. At the time, McConnell claimed some kind of made-up exception having to do with the fact that it was January and soon Trump wouldn’t be in office, so impeachment was irrelevant. That, of course, is almost as flimsy as his excuse for refusing to bring President Obama’s Supreme Court Justice up for a vote for almost a full year.
Mitch McConnell punted Donald Trump’s alleged crimes upon his own country. McConnell didn’t feel compelled to do his basic duty to protect this country and her people by voting to convict on something he clearly knows happened and holds Trump responsible for. That failure has led to more violence and more threats. It has kept the door open for Trump to run again. It has put all of the burden on the Biden Department of Justice, when it could have been done at that second impeachment.
After all of the evidence and 17 months of investigation, Liz Cheney pronounced Trump “unfit for any office.” But Mike Pence, whose life was threatened, told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer he hopes they don’t bring charges against Trump because it would be “terribly divisive."
In reality, it would be divisive not to bring charges and it would embolden the use of terrorism to achieve political ends. A coup trying to steal the votes of millions of people is “divisive.” It is wrong to treat it as something people should just get over.
Speaker Pelosi said in a statement sent to PoliticusUSA of the criminal referrals, “With painstaking detail, this executive summary documents the sinister plot to subvert the Congress, shred the Constitution and halt the peaceful transfer of power. The Committee has reached important conclusions about the evidence it has developed, and I respect those findings.
“Our Founders made clear that, in the United States of America, no one is above the law. This bedrock principle remains unequivocally true, and justice must be done.”
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to a question about the referral by saying: “So I'll first say, and you've heard me say this many times, and the President as well: We've been very clear from the beginning that what we saw on January 6th was the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War. And the President has been very clear: Our democracy continues and remains under threat, and we all have a -- have a part to protect it."
Jean-Pierre pointedly turned the press back to the Republicans referred to the House Ethics Committee for ignoring subpoenas by saying the press should ask them to speak for their own actions.
We won’t hold our breath.
But none of those people are the Department of Justice and none have the power to prosecute Trump. The DOJ has to operate under a different set of rules than the House Select Committee in terms of evidence. Will they have what they need to prosecute? It seems like a slam dunk, but we’ve been here before.
We are a country in limbo, waiting for someone to help Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was the only person thus far who has had the courage to lead the charge to hold Trump accountable through two impeachments.
The challenge now is that our very notion of our country as a democracy hinges upon the concept of being a nation of laws, yet Donald Trump, much to the glee of Russian President Vladimir Putin, repeatedly punches gaping holes in this image.
The summary report focused on Trump, so it didn’t address why law enforcement and security failed to act on intelligence that far-Right extremists and Trump supporters were plotting violence on January 6th. Perhaps we will get more on that in the full report, which will be released this week.
No matter how the DOJ proceeds, one thing is happening already: Trump’s image is suffering — among his own supporters and in the eye of the public. Some of his strongest supporters have told me they are tired of the drama, and NBC’s Ben Collins further confirmed this by saying, "I'm not saying that the utility for Donald Trump has worn off in these circles, but I am saying the number one priority right now is not to defend this guy.”
There are still Trump cultists buying his trading cards and funding his lifestyle, but his political stardom is over. He is now at the point where Sarah Palin was after her Blood Libel comments and soon he will be a lonely figure hiding in Mar-a-Lago, even more reliant upon the mandated clapping when he enters and leaves a room.
This is Sarah Jones on the Politicus Pod for PoliticusUSA’s The Daily. If you’re tired of billionaires controlling the news you see and you want to be a part of the movement supporting news for The People, subscribe to our Substack. It’s only five dollars a month, and it goes to pay all of the bills at the website so we can keep it free for those who can’t afford a paywall. If you have any questions for us, Jason and I are going to be doing a mailbag over the holidays so please leave them below. Thank you and I look forward to talking with you tomorrow.
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