Searing testimony increases the likelihood of charges against Trump, experts say | Donald Trump

The blistering testimonies and mounting evidence about Donald Trump’s pivotal role in a multiple conspiracy to nullify Joe Biden’s 2020 election, presented at the commission’s first three Jan. 6 hearings, have increased Trump’s chances of facing criminal charges. prosecuted, former Justice Department prosecutors say. and officials.

The panel’s initial hearings provided a sort of legal roadmap about Trump’s multifaceted motives — in conjunction with some top lawyers and loyalists — to thwart Biden from taking office, which should benefit Justice Department prosecutors’ efforts to do so. comprehensive investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters.

Former Justice Department lawyers say new revelations during the hearings increase the likelihood that Trump will be charged with crimes involving conspiracy to obstruct official proceedings or defraud the United States, as he desperate and apparently illegal took steps to undermine Biden’s election.

Trump could also potentially face fraud for his role in an apparently extraordinary fundraising scam — described by House panelists as the “big scam” — that brought in some $250 million for an “election defense fund” that didn’t exist, but was huge. was funneled to Trump’s political action committee Save America and Trump’s property.

The panel hopes to hold six hearings on various parts of what its vice chairman, Liz Cheney, called Trump’s “advanced seven-part plan” to undo the election.

Trump, for example, was repeatedly told by top officials and cabinet officials — including ex-Attorney General Bill Barr — that the election had not been stolen and that his claims of fraud were “utter nonsense” and “crazy stuff,” as Barr put it in a video from his destructive deposition. But Trump persisted in pushing baseless fraud claims with the support of key allies, including his ex-personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and attorney John Eastman.

“The Commission’s Jan. 6 investigation has provided substantial, compelling evidence that Trump has committed crimes, including but not limited to conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruct official proceedings,” said Michael Bromwich, a former inspector general at the DoJ, to The Guardian.

Donald Ayer, a former deputy attorney general in George HW Bush’s administration, told the Guardian that “the commission hearings have reinforced the need to seriously consider filing criminal charges against Trump”.

The core of any Trump prosecution would depend heavily on convincing a jury that Trump knew he had lost the election and acted with criminal intent to nullify the valid election results. The hearings focused heavily on testimony that Trump fully knew he had lost and went full steam ahead to come up with plans to stay in power.

New revelations harming Trump emerged Thursday as Greg Jacob, the ex-counsel for former Vice President Mike Pence, detailed how Eastman and Trump were under intense pressure, both publicly and privately, even as the Capitol was attacked. to urge Pence to illegally block Biden’s certification by Congress on Jan. 6.

Eastman’s pressure included a plan to replace pro-Trump fake voters from states Biden won for voters who legitimately pledged to Biden — a plan the DoJ has been investigating for months and now includes a grand jury targeting on Eastman, Giuliani and several other lawyers and agents.

Eastman at one point admitted to Jacob that he knew his pressure to get Pence on Jan. 6 to reject Biden’s winning electoral college count, violate the Electoral Count Act, and also tell Trump it would be illegal. are for Pence to block Biden’s certification.

Paul Pelletier, former acting head of the DoJ’s Fraud Department, said, “It’s a high-target environment, with many accessories both before and after that needs to be investigated.”

But experts warn that any decision to indict Trump is the job of current Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has been careful not to discuss details of his department’s Jan. 6 investigations, which have so far led to charges. against more than 800 persons, including some Proud Boys and Oathkeepers charged with seditious conspiracy.

After the first two hearings, Garland told reporters, “I’m watching and I’ll be watching all the hearings,” adding that DoJ prosecutors are doing the same.

Garland noted in regard to potentially investigating Trump: “We’re just going to follow the facts wherever they lead… to hold accountable all perpetrators criminally responsible for January 6, regardless of their level, their position, and regardless of whether they are present.” at the events on January 6.”

But Garland hasn’t tipped his hand yet if Trump himself is under investigation. Despite that reluctance, Justice Department veterans say the wealth of testimony from one-time Trump insiders and new revelations during the House hearings should spur the department to investigate and indict Trump.

Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney for eastern Michigan, said the panel’s early evidence was strong, including “video testimony from Trump insiders telling Trump he was going to lose heavily, and that with regard to claims from election fraud ‘no not there,’” Mark Meadows, the ex-Trump chief of staff, admitted in a conversation made public during the hearings.

McQuade added that Barr’s testimony was “devastating to Trump. He and other Trump insiders who testified about their talks with Trump established that Trump knew he had lost the election and continued to make public claims of fraud anyway. That knowledge could help establish the fraudulent intent needed to prove criminal offenses against Trump.”

Thursday’s hearing at the Capitol. Photo: Reuters

In a new legal twist that could arise if Trump is indicted, Bromwich said: “Bizarrely, Trump’s best defense against the mountain of evidence proving these crimes appears to be that he was unable to prove the criminal intent. forms necessary to judge. That he was disconnected from reality, in Barr’s words. But there is strong evidence that he is not mad, but instead mad as a fox.

How else would he explain his efforts to pressure Georgia’s Secretary of State to ‘find the voices’ needed to change the outcome? Or that he tells DoJ officials to simply declare the election “corrupt” and leave “the rest to me” and Republican House allies?”

Bromwich added: “All this shows not someone who is incapable of forming criminal intent, but someone who understood the facts and was determined not to accept them. Because he couldn’t stand losing. That was far more important to him than honoring our institutions or the constitution.”

Former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin said Trump could face charges in what Cheney called the “big scam,” which revolves around the allegation that “Trump raised money from small-dollar donors under false pretenses after the election.”

Zeldin said: “He asked for money to fight election fraud, when in fact the money was being used for other purposes. This kind of behavior could violate the wire fraud statute.”

Ayer cited the importance of a Justice Department regulation that identifies factors to consider when deciding whether to press charges, noting three that are of particular importance to Trump: the nature and seriousness of the charges. crime, the significant deterrent effect of prosecutions and the guilt of the individual charged.

But it may not all be smooth sailing.

Simmering tensions between the panel and the Justice Department have escalated over DoJ requests — so far denied — to obtain 1,000 witness transcripts of commission interviews, which prosecutors say are needed for upcoming Proud Boys trials and other cases. However, the New York Times has reported that some witness transcripts could be shared next month.

Nevertheless, as Garland considers moving forward with the investigation and indictment of Trump, experts warn that prosecuting Trump would require enormous resources, given the unprecedented nature of such a high-stakes case, and the risks that a jury could target Trump. acquittal — which would only increase his appeal to the Republican base. But at the same time, the commitment to the country not to aggressively investigate Trump is also extremely high.

“No one should underestimate the seriousness of the decision to criminally indict an ex-president,” said former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut.

However, it seems necessary for Aftergu to charge Trump.

“Ultimately, the avalanche of documents and sworn testimony proving a multifaceted criminal conspiracy to overthrow the will of the people means one thing: If no one is above the law, even an ex-president who led that conspiracy should be indicted.”

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