Judge finds Trump ‘likely’ committed felony obstruction; Jan. 6th Committee calls out DOJ
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A federal judge ruled Monday (pdf) that former president Donald Trump “more likely than not” committed criminal obstruction of Congress by encouraging the January 6th insurrection and pressuring then-Vice President Mike Pence to throw out the election results.
The illegality of the plan was obvious. Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the Vice President to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election. As Vice President Pence stated, “no Vice President in American history has ever asserted such authority.” Every American—and certainly the President of the United States—knows that in a democracy, leaders are elected, not installed. With a plan this “BOLD,” President Trump knowingly tried to subvert this fundamental principle.
Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.
The comments by Judge David Carter, a Bill Clinton appointee, came as he ordered the release of 101 emails from pro-Trump attorney John Eastman to the Select Committee investigating Jan. 6. The court order only discusses in detail documents that reference election fraud. Of these eleven documents, one email may be more important than others: “a chain forwarding to Dr. Eastman a draft memo written for President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani.”
The memo recommended that Vice President Pence reject electors from contested states on January 6. This may have been the first time members of President Trump’s team transformed a legal interpretation of the Electoral Count Act into a day-by-day plan of action. The draft memo pushed a strategy that knowingly violated the Electoral Count Act, and Dr. Eastman’s later memos closely track its analysis and proposal. The memo is both intimately related to and clearly advanced the plan to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021. Because the memo likely furthered the crimes of obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States, it is subject to the crime-fraud exception and the Court ORDERS it to be disclosed.
Finally, it is worth reading how Carter concluded his order:
Dr. Eastman and President Trump launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history. Their campaign was not confined to the ivory tower—it was a coup in search of a legal theory. The plan spurred violent attacks on the seat of our nation’s government, led to the deaths of several law enforcement officers, and deepened public distrust in our political process.
More than a year after the attack on our Capitol, the public is still searching for accountability. This case cannot provide it. The Court is tasked only with deciding a dispute over a handful of emails. This is not a criminal prosecution; this is not even a civil liability suit. At most, this case is a warning about the dangers of “legal theories” gone wrong, the powerful abusing public platforms, and desperation to win at all costs. If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution. If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself.
Department of Justice
Last night, the Select Committee unanimously voted to recommend that former Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino be held in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with subpoenas (video). Numerous members used the business meeting to call on Attorney General Merrick Garland to act quickly, which is particularly salient considering the DOJ has sat on Congress’ criminal referral for Mark Meadows for three months now.
Rep. Liz Cheney:
“Like Mr. Meadows, Mr. Navarro insists that he is above the law and is categorically and absolutely immune from any congressional subpoena regarding January 6th…The Department of Justice is entrusted with the defense of our constitution. Department leadership should not apply any doctrine of immunity that might block Congress from fully uncovering and addressing the causes of the January 6 attack.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren:
“In the United States of America, no one is above the law. This committee is doing its job. The Department of Justice needs to do theirs.”
Rep. Adam Schiff:
“The Department of Justice has a duty to act on this referral and others we have sent. Without enforcement of congressional subpoenas, there is no oversight. And without oversight, no accountability. Not for the former president or any president—past, present, or future.”