The House select committee’s investigation of the former president’s White House and external friends provides prosecutors with several potential avenues to an indictment, which may explain the DOJ’s apparent new focus on Donald Trump in its Jan. 6 investigation.
Reports surfaced over the past few days indicating that federal prosecutors had obtained phone records from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, won the cooperation of the committee’s star witness Cassidy Hutchinson, and questioned two of former Vice President Mike Pence’s top aides before a grand jury.
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Because of this fresh line of inquiry, the department will be able to verify the select committee’s findings and supplement the legislators’ case against Trump.
A Former federal prosecutor and congressional investigative counsel Jeff Robbins said he believes the committee’s hearings likely sparked the fresh DOJ investigation by making a compelling public case against Trump.
Robbins opined that the increase in DOJ activities “aimed at the previous president or including the former president’s conduct after these hearings is definitely not accidental.” Since the entire country has seen so much proof of criminal intent, I don’t think the circumstances are the same as they were a few months ago.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post updated its coverage to include fresh information regarding the department’s priorities. Attorneys reportedly questioned grand jury witnesses about their interactions with Trump and the former president’s actions leading up to the attack on January 6, 2021.
Trump’s efforts to persuade Pence to block Congress from certifying the Electoral College results and a plot to offer a slate of phony electors who would have cast their “votes” for the former president to override results in critical states President Biden won have been at the center of attention.
In the summer, select committee hearings focused on these two topics, with legislators alleging that Trump’s legal team knew the tactics were likely unlawful but went forward with them nonetheless.
Some members of the select committee have stated that they believe there is sufficient evidence to charge Trump with obstruction of an official proceeding, a felony charge that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and has been used against hundreds of rioters charged in the wake of the attack.
The Post reports that the DOJ is investigating potential avenues that would lead to considering these and other charges against Trump, including conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy, and the DOJ is allegedly considering filing similar charges against the remaining members of the groups, however, experts warn that they may be reluctant to file such a heavy case.
Further, according to some analysts, the select committee has provided sufficient evidence to clear the several legal hurdles that would otherwise stand in the way of possible prosecution.
Robbins praised the hearings for laying the groundwork for a prospective case of conspiracy to obstruct or defraud government processes against Trump by offering a “mountain” of information that may be used to show Trump acted with corrupt intent to reverse the election. Since the select committee does not have the resources to secure cooperation from possible witnesses, he predicted that the DOJ would use this strategy going forward.
In contrast to their motivation to testify before the committee, “there are going to be people who were privy to these discussions with the former president who have a much more powerful incentive to cooperate with the Department of Justice than they did to testify before the committee,” Robbins said. It seems that that procedure is already in progress.
The committee has already produced much of the material needed to establish charges for obstructing a proceeding, according to Danya Perry, a former federal prosecutor.
In the last section, we saw that the former president was told by all of his credible advisors that he had lost the election and that there was no evidence of fraud. It’s not like he couldn’t have known that objectively; he just chose to ignore it or didn’t care about it. It’s my opinion that there’s solid proof that he did,” she stated.
Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice may have the strongest case, according to her analysis, because of the fake elector plot. She bases this on Monday’s New York Times article, which described how campaign staffers had discussed sending “fake” certificates in emails.