Posts tagged with "January 6"

Lock him up! Senate Dems see good chance of Garland prosecuting Trump

January 18, 2022

Senate Democrats are beginning to believe that there is a good chance the Department of Justice will prosecute former President Donald Trump for trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election—and, as part of that effort, for inciting the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, reports The Hill.

Democratic lawmakers say they don’t have any inside information on what might happen and describe Attorney General Merrick Garland as someone who would make sure to run any investigation strictly “by the book.” But they also say the fact that Garland has provided little indication about whether the Department of Justice has its prosecutorial sights set on Trump doesn’t necessarily mean the former president isn’t likely to be charged.  

 Given the weight of public evidence, Democratic lawmakers think Trump committed federal crimes.  However, they also warn that Garland needs to proceed cautiously. Any prosecution that fails to convict Trump risks becoming a disaster and could vindicate Trump—just as the inconclusive report by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team was seized upon by Trump and his allies to declare his exoneration on a separate series of allegations.

 Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said “clearly what [Trump] did” in the days leading up and the day of the January 6 attack on Congress “falls in the ambit of what’s being investigated and perhaps is criminal.” 

 Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said it’s up to the prosecutors at the Justice Department whether to charge Trump, although he believes that the former president’s actions on and before January 6 likely violate federal law.  “They have all of the evidence at their disposal,” he said.  

According to The Hill, Kaine believes federal prosecutors are looking seriously at charges against Trump, although he doesn’t have any inside information about what they may be working on.  

 “My intuition is that they are” looking carefully at whether Trump broke the law, he said. “My sense is they’re looking [at] everything in a diligent way and they haven’t made a decision.” 

 “I believe there are federal statutes that are very much implicated” by Trump’s efforts to overturn President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, Kaine added.  

 Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said, “I think anybody who it’s proven had a role in the planning of [the Jan. 6 attack] should be prosecuted—not just the people who broke in and smashed the window in my office and others.” 

 “I think anybody that’s shown to have had a role in its planning absolutely should be prosecuted,” he added. “I mean it was treason, it was trying to overturn an election through violent means.”  

 Asked whether Trump broke the law, Brown said “I’m not going to say he’s guilty before I see evidence,” but he also said there’s “a lot of evidence that he was complicit.”  

 Garland gave Democrats a tantalizing hint when he announced the day before the first anniversary of the January 6 attack that he would prosecute those responsible “at any level” for what he called “the assault on our democracy.” 

“The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law—whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible,” he said.  

 It was a potentially significant statement from an attorney general who otherwise keeps his cards close to the vest.

 On the other side of the equation, a Democratic senator who requested anonymity to comment on the possibility of a federal prosecution of Trump warned that it would take only one pro-Trump juror to derail a conviction and that failure to win any case in court would have disastrous consequences.  

“If you pull the trigger on this one, you have to make sure that you don’t miss, because this is one if you miss it essentially validates the conduct,” the senator warned.

 

Research contact: @thehill

Judge rejects free speech argument; refuses to dismiss indictment against four Proud Boys

December 30, 2021

On Tuesday, December 27, a federal judge refused to dismiss an indictment based on an argument from the attorneys for four men associated with the right-wing group the Proud Boys that their actions leading up to and on January 6 were protected under the freedom of speech rights in the First Amendment, reports Newsweek.

Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Charles Donohoe were indicted in March and charged with conspiracy and obstructing an official proceeding, among other charges; and remain in jail leading up to their trial scheduled for May 2022.

Nordean, of Auburn, Washington, was a Proud Boys chapter president and member of the group’s national “Elders Council.” Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, is a self-described Proud Boys organizer. Rehl was president of the Proud Boys chapter in Philadelphia. Donohoe, of Kernersville, North Carolina, also served as president of his local chapter, according to the indictment.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said the four men had many other options that actually are protected under the First Amendment to protest the election and express their thoughts about its results in a nonviolent, legal manner.

“Defendants are not, as they argue, charged with anything like burning flags, wearing black armbands, or participating in mere sit-ins or protests,” Kelly wrote in a 43-page ruling. “Moreover, even if the charged conduct had some expressive aspect, it lost whatever First Amendment protection it may have had.”

At least three dozen of the over 700 people who have been charged in the insurrection at the Capitol building on January 6 have been identified as leaders or associates of the Proud Boys, the far-right organization that was one of many that

organized events on the day that led to rioters breaking windows and forcing their way through doors into the Capitol. Five people were dead when the insurrection finally ended.

Defense lawyers also argued that the obstruction charge doesn’t apply to their clients’ cases because Congress certification of the Electoral College vote was not an “official proceeding.”

Kelly disagreed.

Earlier this month, another judge in the District of Columbia’s federal court upheld prosecutors’ use of the same obstruction charge in a separate case against two riot defendants.

The case against Nordean, Biggs, Rehl and Donohoe is a focus of the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation of the January 6 insurrection. More than three dozen people charged in the Capitol siege have been identified by federal authorities as Proud Boys leaders, members, or associates—including at least 16 defendants charged with conspiracy.

Last Wednesday, December 23, a New York man pleaded guilty to storming the U.S. Capitol with fellow Proud Boys members. Matthew Greene is the first Proud Boys member to publicly plead guilty to conspiring with other members to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote. He agreed to cooperate with authorities.

Other extremist group members have been charged with conspiring to carry out coordinated attacks on the Capitol, including more than 20 people linked to the anti-government Oath Keepers.

Lawyers for Nordean and Donohoe declined to comment on Tuesday’s ruling. Attorneys for Rehl and Biggs didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

Research contact: @Newsweek

Judge rules that Trump’s January 6 White House records should be handed over to House committee

November 11, 2021

A federal judge ruled late Tuesday night, November 9, that former President Donald Trump’s sensitive White House records should be turned over to congressional investigators looking into the departed executive’s role in fueling the January 6 Capitol insurrection, reports The Daily Beast.

Whether it will actually happen is still a bit of a question: Almost immediately on Tuesday night, Trump’s legal team filed an appeal. However, House lawmakers are closer than ever to acquiring internal communications—including phone records for January 6—from within the White House.

And the National Archives, which is in possession of the records, has said it plans to hand over documents Friday unless a court stops the transfer.

That appears to be unlikely at the moment, the Beast says.

Three weeks ago, Trump sued the chairman of the select committee conducting the investigation, Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), in an attempt to assert executive privilege and block the National Archives from releasing records of internal White House communications before and during the assault on the nation’s democracy.

U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Tanya S. Chutkan, however, ruled that she would not step in the way of the Archives turning over those records.

“The court holds that the public interest lies in permitting—not enjoining—the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events that led to and occurred on January 6, and to consider legislation to prevent such events from ever occurring again,” she wrote.

Chutkan agreed with the committee that this is “a matter of unsurpassed public importance because such information relates to our core democratic institutions and the public’s confidence in them.”

The judge added that Trump’s last ditch effort to keep key details secret would likely fail in a prolonged court battle anyway.

Trump’s political director of communications, Taylor Budowich, issued a statement late Tuesday saying that this battle “was destined to be decided by the Appellate Courts.”

“Pres. Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through,” he wrote on Twitter.

His decision to raise the fight to the appellate court could stall the National Archives and Records Administration from releasing it by its deadline this Friday.

Although Trump’s lawyer, Jesse Binnall, argued that the former president could still assert executive privilege with the expectation that current President Joe Biden must abide by it, legal scholars immediately noted that the argument is nonsensical, given the obvious fact that Trump is no longer president, and his successor is under no obligation to abide by his wishes.

Chutkin touched on that in her opinion, ripping into Trump for attempting to assert expanded power. “Plaintiff does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent President’s judgment. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity.’ But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” she wrote.

Within hours, Thompson issued a statement thanking the judge for her ruling, accusing Trump’s lawsuit of being “little more than an attempt to delay and obstruct our investigation.”

“The presidential records we requested from the National Archives are critical for understanding the terrible events of January 6th,” he said in the statement. “The Select Committee’s investigation is moving forward swiftly and we look forward to receiving these important records from the National Archives.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

McConnell signals Trump conviction is a GOP ‘conscience vote’

Febraury 11, 2021

After voting “nay” on the constitutionality of the current impeachment trial on Monday, February 8, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell now is signaling to fellow Republicans that the final vote on former President Donald Trump’s guilt or innocence is matter of conscience, Bloomberg reports.

Indeed, McConnell made it clear that senators who disputed the constitutionality of the trial could still vote to convict the former president, according to three Bloomberg sources. The Kentucky Republican also has suggested that he hasn’t made up his mind how he’ll vote, two of the people said.

That position is starkly different than McConnell’s declaration at the start of Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when he said that that he did not consider himself an impartial juror.

However, Bloomberg notes, it’s highly unlikely that the Senate will convict Trump of the House’s single impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection, which cited the former president’s actions surrounding the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Conviction requires a two-thirds majority, which means at least 17 Republicans would have to vote with all Democrats in the 50-50 chamber.

Only six Republicans on Tuesday voted in favor of the constitutionality of the Senate process. While that was enough for the simple majority required to proceed with the trial, it suggests that most GOP senators don’t want to vote against Trump.

McConnell, in a leadership meeting Monday night, said the same things he has said publicly, a person familiar with the matter said.

On February 2, he told reporters: “We’re all going to listen to what the lawyers have to say and making the arguments and work our way through it.”

McConnell has been telling Republican senators since mid-January that this would be a “vote of conscience.”

Research contact: @business