Being subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee wasn’t even the worst of Trump’s day


Here’s how bad Donald Trump’s day was on Thursday.

The House committee on Jan. 6 voted to subpoena him after exposing his depraved efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his dereliction of duty as his mob swarmed the US Capitol.

But it wasn’t the worst for the former president.

The committee’s dramatic, if likely futile, effort to get Trump to testify was a moment off the mic to cap its final hearing before the midterm elections and came with a warning that Trump owes the nation an explanation. for a day of infamy in January 2021.

The hearing featured never-before-seen footage of congressional leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, huddled in a safe place during the insurgency grappling with the implications of the pro-Trump mob attack on the Capitol. It also presented almost pitiful accounts of the ex-president’s desperate attempts to avoid publicly admitting that he was a loser in 2020 and claimed that his full understanding of his defeat made his subsequent actions even more abhorrent.

But the developments that could hurt Trump the most have happened offstage. They reflect the extraordinary legal thicket surrounding the ex-president, who has not been charged with a crime, and the distance that remains to be covered to account for his tumultuous exit from power and a presidency that constantly tested the rule of law.

While Trump has frequently defied investigative storms and since launching his presidential campaign in 2015 has repeatedly denied predictions of his impending demise, there is a sense that he is slipping into an increasingly legal hole. Deeper.

As the House Select Committee hearing continued, the Supreme Court let it be known across the road that it had no interest in getting embroiled in Trump’s bid to derail an investigation of the Ministry of Justice on classified documents that he kept at Mar-a-Lago.

The court rejected his request for urgent intervention, which could have delayed the case, without explaining why. No dissent was noted, including from the conservative justices whom Trump has elevated to the bench and who he often seems to believe owe him a debt of loyalty.

For all the political drama surrounding the continuing revelations about one of the darkest days in modern American history on January 6, it is the confrontation over classified documents that appears to pose the clearest and most immediate threat. of the ex-president of a real criminal exhibition.

As TV stations aired full coverage of the committee hearing, other news reports hinted at other serious legal issues the ex-president may face following another ministry investigation. of Justice – also on January 6. Unlike the House version, the DOJ Criminal Investigation has the power to issue indictments.

Marc Short, former chief of staff to then-Vice President Mike Pence, was spotted leaving a courthouse in Washington, DC. Short had been forced to testify before the grand jury for the second time, according to a person familiar with the matter, CNN’s Pamela Brown reported. Another Trump adviser, former national security aide Kash Patel, was also seen walking through an area where the grand jury meets. Patel wouldn’t tell reporters what he was doing.

It often happens that Trump’s legal threats do not come one at a time, but pile up all at once.

CNN’s Brown reported Wednesday night that a Trump employee told the FBI that the ex-president asked him to remove boxes from a basement storage room at his Florida club after the team Trump’s legal counsel had received a subpoena for any classified documents. The FBI also has surveillance footage showing a staff member moving the boxes.

At first glance, this development is troubling as it could suggest a pattern of deception playing into a possible obstruction of justice charge. During the initial search warrant before the FBI showed up at Trump’s home in August, the office told a judge there may be « evidence of obstruction » at the compound.

Still, David Schoen, who was Trump’s defense attorney during his second impeachment, told CNN’s « New Day » that while the details of what happened at Mar-a-Lago raised concerns troubling questions, they did not necessarily constitute a case of obstruction of justice.

But he added: “If President Trump or someone acting on his behalf knew…that they had no right to have these documents in their possession, the documents belonged to the government or the American people, et cetera , and knowingly disobeyed the subpoena. , knowingly concealed the documents or prevented the documents from being found, then this could theoretically constitute an obstruction.

Trump’s day of deepening legal anxiety had started with a jolt.

On Thursday morning, New York Attorney General Letitia James asked a state court to stop the Trump Organization from moving assets and continuing to perpetrate what she alleged in a civil lawsuit to be fraud of several decades.

« There is every reason to believe that the defendants will continue to engage in similar fraudulent conduct until trial, unless controlled by an order of this Court, » James wrote in a request for an injunction. trial related to his $250 million lawsuit against Trump, his three oldest children and his business.

Trump called the James investigation a stunt and denied any wrongdoing. The Justice Department has not charged the former president or anyone else in its investigation of the Capitol insurrection. The House Select Committee cannot pursue criminal charges, though it is discussing whether to send criminal referrals to the Justice Department. Trump also blasted the DOJ’s investigation into classified documents uncovered during the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago residence as a witch hunt and political persecution.

These aren’t even the only probes connected to Trump. There’s also the matter of another Georgia probe into attempts by the former president and his allies to cancel elections in a crucial 2020 state.

As always, Trump came out to fight on Thursday, one of those days when the severity of a crisis he faces can often be gauged by the vehemence of the rhetoric he uses to respond to it.

Trump’s first spokesman, Taylor Budowich, mocked the unanimous 9-0 vote in the select committee to subpoena the former president for documents and testimony.

“Pres Trump will not be intimidated by his meritless rhetoric or un-American actions. Trump-endorsed candidates will sweep the mid-terms, and America First’s leadership and solutions will be restored,” Budowich wrote on Twitter.

Then the former president weighed in on his Truth Social network with another post that didn’t address the accusations against him, but was clearly designed to elicit a political backlash from his supporters.

“Why didn’t the screening committee ask me to testify months ago? Why did they wait for the very end, the last moments of their last meeting? Because the Committee is a total ‘BUST’,” Trump wrote.

The former president is right to ask why the panel waited so long to call him. But his obstruction of the investigation and his attempts to prevent former aides from testifying mean he is on thin ice to criticize his conduct. And it’s not uncommon for investigators to build a case before approaching the most important potential target of an investigation.

Given the former president’s track record of obstructing efforts to examine his tumultuous presidency, it would be surprising if he didn’t fight the subpoena, although there may be a part of him that would appreciate a prime-time spot during a live hearing.

Committee chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, warned the former president had an obligation to explain himself.

“The need for this committee to hear from Donald Trump goes beyond our investigation. It is a matter of accountability to the American people. He must be accountable. He is held accountable for his actions,” Thompson said.

The subpoena could also give the bipartisan committee some cover from pro-Trump Republicans who claim it was a politicized attempt to attack Trump that failed to allow witnesses to be cross-examined. If it wanted to enforce a subpoena, the committee would have to seek a contempt of Congress referral from the Justice Department by the full House. He took such a step with Trump political guru Steve Bannon, who was found guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress and soon faces a sentencing hearing.

But any effort to follow a similar course if Trump refuses to testify could take months and involve lengthy legal battles. It’s unclear whether the Justice Department would see this as a good investment, especially given the advanced state of its own Jan. 6 investigation. And there’s a good chance the committee will get swept up in history anyway, with Republicans favored to take control of the House majority after the midterm elections.

Given the slim chance of Trump then complying with a congressional subpoena, many observers will see the dramatic vote to target the ex-president as another theatrical flourish in a series of skillfully produced hearings that often sounded like a television drama.

But the committee’s Republican vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, said the investigation is no longer just about what happened on January 6, but about the future.

“With every effort to excuse or justify the conduct of the former president, we are eroding the foundation of our Republic,” said the Wyoming lawmaker, who will not return to Congress after losing her primary this summer to a backlash. President supported by Trump. challenger.

“Indefensible conduct is forbidden, inexcusable conduct is excused. Without accountability, everything becomes normal and it will happen again.

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