Justice Is Coming For Trump As Select Panel Prepares Criminal Referrals
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Cover your ears. The squawking and whining and lying and pissing and moaning is going to be deafening come Monday. That’s when the House Select Committee has scheduled a vote on whether to make a criminal referral to the Department of Justice about crimes Donald Trump may have committed concerning the assault on the Capitol on that infamous day nearly two years ago.
The vote is a foregone conclusion. At least one committee member, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), openly discussed at committee hearings Trump’s culpability in obstructing the official business of the Congress when it certified the presidential election of 2020. There was also talk from several committee members that Trump may have engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the United States government.
Now the New York Times and Politico are reporting that the committee may vote to refer charges against Trump for insurrection. Here is the language of the relevant 18 U.S. Code 2383: Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? On Friday night MSNBC had a legal expert on the air who referred to Trump’s reported statement backstage at his rally on the morning of January 6, telling his Secret Service detail to “let my people in” after he was informed that there were people in the crowd outside the gates to the Ellipse site who were armed.
Cassidy Hutchinson testified under oath to the select committee that she heard Trump tell the Secret Service, “I don’t fuckin’ care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the fuckin’ mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.” Trump’s reference to “mags” was to magnetometers, or metal detectors, which were being used to screen the crowd allowed into the fenced area for the rally on the Ellipse. Trump’s statement, “They can march to the Capitol from here,” appeared to refer to the armed people in the crowd that had gathered to hear his speech on the Ellipse. That would appear to satisfy the language of the statute regarding “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists…or gives aid or comfort thereto” persons “engag[ing] in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof,” wouldn’t you say?
Of course, Special Counsel Jack Smith is not obligated to follow the criminal referral of a committee of the Congress. But he already appears to have ideas of his own about his task in investigating the former president. Smith is said to be considering charges against Trump for mishandling classified and non-classified national defense information when he removed nearly 22,000 documents from the White House and took them to Mar a Lago in January of 2021. Hundreds of those documents were classified, some with the highest classifications the intelligence community can award to national security secrets.
But crimes Smith is said to be investigating need not involve just classified documents. National security information, classified or non-classified, is covered by the statute equally.
Smith is also known to be aggressively pursuing crimes Trump may have committed by conspiring with others to create fake slates of electors and use them to interfere with the certification of electoral ballots on January 6. He has issued subpoenas and taken testimony from two of Trump’s White House counsels and several of his top aides, most recently Stephen Miller. Smith has issued a subpoena to Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, whom Trump spoke with on a recorded telephone call on January 3, 2021, encouraging him to “find” enough votes that he would be declared winner of Georgia’s electoral ballots.
There is also the matter of Trump’s solicitation of members of the state legislatures of Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, when he attempted to convince them to hold special sessions and change the electoral ballots from Biden to Trump so he could win those states. Trump hosted two groups of state legislators at the White House as part of this attempt and spoke to numerous others on conference calls. Special Counsel Smith has subpoenaed officials, including members of the legislatures, of all seven battleground states Trump lost and then proceeded to attempt to get the legislatures to flip their state electoral votes from Biden to himself.
CNN reported this week that Smith is “moving fast on a pair of criminal probes around Donald Trump that in recent months have focused on the former president’s state of mind after the 2020 election, including what he knew about plans to impede the transfer of power.” With the flurry of grand jury subpoenas the Special Counsel has issued and the testimony under oath before the grand jury he has taken recently, it would appear that he isn’t wasting any time. He has also made new hires to his staff of prosecutors engaged in the investigation. CNN reports that Smith already has a staff with twice the number of Mueller’s investigators, and the DOJ prosecutors on the documents case and Trump’s efforts to overturn the election are moving their offices so they can come under his command.
At least two former DOJ prosecutors have left other jobs to take positions on Smith’s staff, according to multiple reports in the newspapers and on cable networks. Legal experts have pointed out that they are not the kind of lawyers who would quit their work in private practice merely to involve themselves in an investigation that isn’t going somewhere.
Donald Trump hasn’t had a very good December at all, with the possible exception of his quite successful Trump trading cards sale on Thursday which reportedly made him some $4.5 million.
January is looking like it’s going to be much, much worse for the photoshopped superhero. He’s going to need to sell one hell of a lot more trading cards if he’s going to hire the kinds of lawyers he’ll need when Smith weighs in. The MAGA minions had better start gargling with salt water right now, for all the shrieking and wailing they’ll be called upon to do next month.
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.
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