Posts tagged with "2021"

Trump says he doesn’t know whether he could work with Mitch McConnell, if re-elected

February 22, 2024

Former President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, February 20, that he was uncertain if he could work with former ally turned political foe Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, if he were to be re-elected, reports NBC News.

“He’ll probably end up endorsing me. I don’t know that I can work with him,” Trump said during a town hall on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” on Tuesday. “He gave away trillions of dollars that he didn’t have to, trillions of dollars. He made it very easy for the Democrats.”

The relationship between the two Republican leaders soured after McConnell denounced Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot—calling it a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.”

Trump has escalated attacks on McConnell since leaving office, and most recently helped tank the sweeping bipartisan border deal that McConnell supported.

McConnell has not endorsed Trump’s bid for re-election, even as many of his Senate colleagues have—although he said he would support whomever the GOP nominee is and has acknowledged that appears almost certain to be Trump.

NBC News has reached out to McConnell’s office for comment.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to end delays of Trump’s January 6 trial

February 15, 2024

On Wednesday, February 14, federal prosecutors urged the Supreme Court not to delay Donald Trump’s trial for his coup attempt any further—calling a quick resolution of those criminal charges a matter of utmost importance for the country, reports The Huffington Post.

“The charged crimes strike at the heart of our democracy,” Special Counsel Jack Smith wrote in a 39-page brief filed with the court Wednesday evening. He called Trump’s actions an “effort to perpetuate himself in power and prevent the lawful winner of the 2020 presidential election from taking office.

“The national interest in resolving those charges without further delay is compelling,” he wrote.

The former president on Monday asked the high court to freeze that prosecution through two more rounds of appeals—a request that, if granted, could put Trump in a position of ordering the Department of Justice to dismiss all federal cases against him, should he win back the presidency this autumn.

Trump is arguing to the Supreme Court that his riling up his followers with lies about a “stolen” election that culminated in the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, to keep him in power was, in fact, an “official” act of the presidency for which he cannot be prosecuted. He also claims he cannot be prosecuted for his actions because the Senate failed to hit the two-thirds supermajority needed to convict him on that impeachment. What’s more, he argues that the Founders always intended for presidents to enjoy total immunity.

All those arguments were previously rejected by both trial Judge Tanya Chutkan as well as the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That appellate court ruled that the case would return to Chutkan for trial unless the Supreme Court granted him a delay while it considers Trump’s request.

Smith wrote in his new filing that Trump had no grounds to seek another delay at this point. “He has no entitlement to a further stay while seeking discretionary review from this court,” Smith said. “Delay in the resolution of these charges threatens to frustrate the public interest in a speedy and fair verdict―a compelling interest in every criminal case and one that has unique national importance here; as it involves federal criminal charges against a former president for alleged criminal efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election, including through the use of official power.

Further, Trump had not shown any historical or legal basis for his claim that he is immune from prosecution. “A president’s alleged criminal scheme to overturn an election and thwart the peaceful transfer of power to his successor should be the last place to recognize a novel form of absolute immunity from federal criminal law.”

Trump’s lawyers have gone beyond merely asking the Supreme Court to review the case and are demanding that Trump first be allowed to appeal to the full appellate court before coming to the high court—all while the January 6 case remains on hold.

But Smith asked the court to treat Trump’s request for a delay as a request for the court to review the three-judge panel’s ruling—thereby eliminating one of the steps Trump was asking for. Smith also asked the justices to decline taking the case at all, given the appellate court’s detailed ruling; but that if did take it, to do so on an expedited basis that would produce a ruling by the end of the court’s term this summer.

“The public interest weighs heavily in favor of this court’s issuance of its decision without delay,” Smith wrote.

The January. 6 case is one of two federal prosecutions Trump could end if he becomes president again. The other is based on his refusal to turn over secret documents he took with him to his South Florida country club upon leaving the White House.

Trump also faces a Georgia state prosecution for his attempt to overturn his election loss there and a New York state indictment accusing him of falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to a porn star in the days before the 2016 election.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Colorado judge rules Trump can be on ballot—but says he ‘engaged’ in insurrection

November 21, 2023

On Friday, November 17, a judge ruled that former President Donald Trump had engaged in insurrection by inciting a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021—but decided that he is not barred from appearing on the primary ballot in Colorado, reports The Washington Post.

The ruling in Colorado’s state court— the first to find that the presidential candidate had participated in an insurrection—served as a rebuke to the Republican front-runner, even as it provided him with a legal victory. Trump has won a string of cases brought by opponents who are trying to keep him off the ballot under a provision of the Constitution (the 14th Amendment) that bars officials who engage in insurrection from holding office.

Denver District Judge Sarah B. Wallace wrote that Trump “acted with the specific intent to disrupt the Electoral College certification of President Biden’s electoral victory through unlawful means; specifically, by using unlawful force and violence.” And, she concluded, “that Trump incited an insurrection on January 6, 2021 and therefore ‘engaged’ in insurrection.”

An appeal is expected and could ultimately be resolved by the Colorado Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wallace’s ruling came a week and a half after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that former President Donald Trump could not be removed from the primary ballot in that state and three days after a Michigan judge reached the same conclusion.

Despite the decision’s blunt wording and findings, Trump campaign spokesman Steve Cheung championed the ruling, calling it “another nail in the coffin of the un-American ballot challenges.”

Trump opponents have been bringing their lawsuits state by state in hopes of ultimately securing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that keeps Trump off the ballot in all states. The cases are moving quickly because caucuses and primaries will be held starting in January.

Adopted in 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, the 14th Amendment granted citizenship to those born or naturalized in the United States and guaranteed civil rights to all Americans, including those who had been enslaved. The amendment’s lesser-known Section 3 was aimed at limiting the power of former Confederates by barring from office those who had sworn an oath to the Constitution and later engaged in insurrection.

Although Wallace found that Trump engaged in insurrection, she determined Section 3 does not apply to him. Section 3 refers to some offices by name as well as those who are an “officer of the United States,” but does not specifically mention the presidency.

Wallace determined those who wrote Section 3 “did not intend to include the President as ‘an officer of the United States.’”

The judge also determined that the amendment’s provision technically applied to those who swear an oath to “support” the Constitution. The oath Trump took when he was sworn in after he was elected in 2016 was to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution.

Wallace wrote she did not want to disqualify someone from office “without a clear, unmistakable indication” that that was what those who wrote the 14th Amendment intended.

Even as she ruled in Trump’s favor, Wallace was unsparing in her description of his behavior before, during and after the attack on the Capitol. She found Trump has a “history of courting extremists and endorsing political violence” and knew his supporters were willing to engage in violence.

“The evidence shows that Trump not only knew about the potential for violence, but that he actively promoted it and, on January 6, 2021, incited it,” she wrote.

In Colorado and other states, Trump’s attorneys have argued the attack was not an insurrection, Trump did not participate in it and Trump told his supporters to act peacefully. In addition, they have contended Section 3 does not apply to the presidency and said Congress, not courts, should determine who is eligible to hold office.

The lawsuit was brought by six Republican and independent voters with the help of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington . Noah Bookbinder, the group’s president, said the voters would appeal the case to the Colorado Supreme Court soon.

“We are proud to have brought this historic case and know we are right on the facts and right on the law,” he said in a statement. “Today was not the end of this effort, but another step along the way.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Rep. Eric Swalwell to testify in Trump 14th Amendment disqualification trial

October 31, 2023

U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-California) is expected to testify in a Colorado trial aiming to determine whether former President Donald Trump is eligible to be on the state’s 2024 ballot under the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban,” reports The Hill.

A lawyer for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which brought the case, said Monday that Swalwell will explain “how the mob” that attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021, “disrupted the core constitutional process of a peaceful transfer of power.”

Swalwell has said he was among the last lawmakers to leave the House floor during the Capitol attack.

“I thought it was one of the safest places, one of the most heavily fortified places in the world,” Swalwell told the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2021. “That’s one of the most unsettling things about the day. It is such a sacred, symbolic, and fortified space. I am still in disbelief.”

The lawsuit, filed in September by CREW and six Colorado voters, suggests Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies Trump from holding office again. The amendment says anyone who took an oath to support the Constitution but then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against it cannot hold office.

The plaintiffs assert that Trump’s role in the Capitol attack—inflaming his supporters with false claims of election fraud and directing their aim at the Capitol—meets that threshold.

Colorado Judge Sarah Wallace is overseeing the bench trial—meaning, there is no jury and she will be the sole decider of the case’s outcome.

Wallace said the trial will address nine topics, including the meaning of “engaged” and “insurrection” as used in the 14th Amendment and whether Trump’s conduct qualifies.

The trial is expected to last about a week.

Research contact: @thehill

Mark Meadows testifies to grand jury in Special Counsel’s investigation of Trump

June 8, 2023

Mark Meadows, the final White House chief of staff of President Donald Trump’s administration—and a potentially key figure in inquiries related to Trump—has testified before a federal grand jury hearing evidence in the investigations being led by the Special Counsel’s Office, according to two people briefed on the matter, reports The New York Times .

Meadows is a figure in both of the two distinct lines of inquiry being pursued by Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed to oversee the Justice Department’s scrutiny of Trump.

One inquiry is focused on Trump’s efforts to cling to power after losing the 2020 election, culminating in the attack by a pro-Trump mob on the Capitol during congressional certification of the Electoral College results on January 6, 2021. The other is an investigation into Trump’s handling of hundreds of classified documents after he left office and, in particular, whether he obstructed efforts to retrieve them.

It is not clear precisely when Meadows testified or if investigators questioned him about one or both of the cases.

For months, people in Trump’s orbit have been puzzled by and wary about the low profile kept by Meadows in the investigations. As reports surfaced of one witness after another going into the grand jury or to be interviewed by federal investigators, Meadows has kept largely out of sight, and some of Trump’s advisers believe he could be a significant witness in the inquiries.

Trump, himself, has at times asked aides questions about how , Meadows is doing, according to a person familiar with the remarks.

Asked about the grand jury testimony, a lawyer for Meadows, George Terwilliger, said, “Without commenting on whether or not … Meadows has testified before the grand jury or in any other proceeding, … Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth where he has a legal obligation to do so.”

Meadows was a polarizing figure at the White House among some of Trump’s aides, who saw him as a loose gatekeeper at best during a final year in which the former president moved aggressively to mold the government in his image.

Meadows was around for pivotal moments leading up to and after the 2020 election, as Trump plotted to try to stay in office and thwart Joe Biden. from being sworn in to succeed him. Some of them were described in hundreds of text messages that Meadows turned over to the House select committee that investigated the January 6 attack at the Capitol before he decided to stop cooperating. Those texts served as a road map for House investigators.

But Meadows also has insight into efforts by the National Archives to retrieve roughly two dozen boxes of presidential material that officials had been told Trump took with him when he left the White House in January 2021. Meadows was one of Trump’s representatives to the archives, and he had some role in trying to discuss the matter with Trump, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Meadows is also now connected tangentially to a potentially vital piece of evidence that investigators uncovered in recent months—an audio recording of an interview that Trump gave to two people assisting Meadows in writing a memoir of his White House years.

Meadows did not attend the meeting, which took place in July 2021 at Trump’s club at Bedminster, New Jersey. During the meeting, Trump referred to a document he appeared to have in front of him and suggested that he should have declassified it but that he no longer could, since he was out of office.

That recording could undercut Trump’s claim that he believed he had declassified all material still held at his properties for months after he left office.

Research contact: @nytimes

Liz Cheney launches new ad attacking Trump, set to run in New Hampshire

May 10, 2023

Former Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) has launched a campaign ad in New Hampshire warning 2024 voters against backing former President Donald Trump, reports The Hill.

“Donald Trump has proven he is unfit for office. Donald Trump is a risk America can never take again,” Cheney says in a voiceover atop clips of Trump and the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Cheney, who was on the House select committee that probed January 6, knocked Trump for his actions around the 2020 election, which he lost to now-President Joe Biden.

“Donald Trump is the only president in American history who has refused to guarantee the peaceful transfer of power. He lost the election and he knew it. He betrayed millions of Americans by telling them the election was stolen. He ignored the rulings of dozens of courts,” she says in the video.

“Rather than accept his defeat, he mobilized a mob to come to Washington and march on the Capitol. Then, he watched on television while the mob attacked law enforcement, invaded the Capitol, and hunted the vice president,” Cheney says.

NBC News reports that the ad, titled “Risk” and released by her PAC, The Great Task, will air in New Hampshire around Trump’s planned on-air town hall on Wednesday, May 10.

Cheney also highlighted Trump’s delay in telling the rioters to leave—asserting that Trump “didn’t care” about warnings that his January 6 plans were illegal. “There has never been a greater dereliction of duty by any president,” she says.

After last year’s midterms, Trump announced that he’s running to reclaim the White House in 2024, and Cheney fueled speculation in late 2022 that she could get in the ring—but is yet to officially make an announcement.


Pence to fight subpoena from special counsel

February 15, 2023

Former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to resist a subpoena for testimony as part of a Justice Department special counsel’s investigation into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, a source familiar with Pence’s plans has confirmed to The Hill.

Pence is preparing to fight a subpoena from Jack Smith, the special counsel assigned by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee investigations into Trump—including one focused on the events of January 6, 2021, and Trump’s efforts to remain in power.

It was reported last week that Smith’s office had moved to subpoena Pence in one of its most aggressive moves to date, as its inquiries into Trump accelerate. Smith’s office also is handling an investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents.

Indeed, Pence’s testimony could be critical in the probe into Trump’s bid to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.

Pence, as he detailed in his memoir, was part of numerous conversations during which the president and his legal advisers pushed baseless claims about widespread fraud—or floated novel and untested legal theories that could be used to keep Trump in the White House.

Pence and his team say that serving as the former president of the Senate essentially makes him a member of the legislative branch—and he would, therefore be shielded from the subpoena under the “speech and debate” clause of the Constitution.

According to The Hill, the former vice president’s resistance is likely to result in a legal battle that could end up at the Supreme Court and determine the extent of the powers and independence of the vice presidency.

Politico first reported Pence’s plans to fight the subpoena.

Pence would be a valuable witness for Smith because the former vice president ultimately refused Trump’s repeated requests to reject the Electoral College results on January 6, 2021—and certified the results of the election hours after rioters had been cleared from the Capitol that day. Pence at the time said there was no constitutional basis for him to reject the election results.

The former vice president has since spoken about his decision that day, but he has also signaled that he would be hostile to attempts from Congress to get his testimony about the events before and during January 6.

“We have a separation of powers under the Constitution of the United States,” Pence told CBS News in November. “And I believe it would establish a terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House.”

Pence is weighing a possible 2024 presidential campaign, with a decision expected in the next few months. The former vice president, who would have to run against Trump to win the nomination, is scheduled to travel to Iowa and Minnesota this week.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump is sued by estate of Capitol Police Officer who died after January 6 attack

January 9, 2023

The estate of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died a day after defending the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, sued Donald Trump on Thursday, January 5—alleging that the officer’s death resulted from the former president’s “incendiary” rhetoric and false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, reports The Wall Street Journal.

In a 47-page lawsuit, lawyers for Sicknick’s estate said Trump “intentionally riled up the crowd and directed and encouraged a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol and attack those who opposed him.” The lawsuit cited Trump’s speech at the Ellipse earlier that day, in which he urged a crowd of supporters to “fight like hell” and march to the Capitol.

“As a direct and foreseeable consequence of Defendant Trump’s false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to Defendant Trump’s express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol,” the lawsuit said. 

The lawsuit also names as defendants two men convicted in connection with the Capitol attack: Julian Elie Khater, who admitted last year to deploying a chemical spray against Sicknick and other officers; and George Pierre Tanios, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from the Capitol attack. Khater and Tanios are to be sentenced on January 27, court records show. Prosecutors didn’t link their actions specifically to Sicknick’s death.

A spokesperson for the former president said that, at the time of the attack on the Capitol, Trump urged the protesters to “peacefully and patriotically make their voices heard,’” and said that “Big Tech companies unilaterally censored and suppressed his calls for peace and should thus be held accountable for their appalling actions.” Trump was “immune from frivolous attacks,” the spokesperson said.

A lawyer for Khater, Chad Seigel, declined to comment. Lawyers for Tanios didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lawyers for Sicknick’s estate are seeking damages of at least $10 million for alleged wrongful death and conspiracy to violate civil rights from all the defendants; as well as claims for aiding and abetting an assault from Trump and for assault from Khater and Tanios.

“The horrific events of January 6, 2021, including Officer Sicknick’s tragic, wrongful death, were a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants’ unlawful actions,” the lawsuit said, referring to Trump, Khater, and Tanios. “As such, the Defendants are responsible for the injury and destruction that followed.”

In April 2021, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Washington. D.C., determined that Sicknick died of a stroke and ruled the manner of his death as natural, using a term it said applied if “disease alone causes death.” The office said that if a death is “hastened by an injury,” it wouldn’t consider the manner of death to be natural.

In response to that determination, the Capitol Police at the time issued a statement saying, “This does not change the fact Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”

The lawsuit comes on the eve of the second anniversary of the attack on the Capitol, in which one protester was shot and killed by police and three others died due to medical emergencies.

On Friday, President Joe Biden is expected to mark the anniversary by honoring Sicknick posthumously with the Presidential Citizens Medal, as well as several other officers of the Capitol Police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police.

Research contact: @WSJ

Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes is convicted of sedition in landmark January 6 case

December 1, 2022

Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was convicted on Tuesday, November 29, along with one of his subordinates, of seditious conspiracy as a jury found them guilty of seeking to keep former President Donald Trump in power through an extensive plot that started after the 2020 election and culminated in the mob attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, reports The New York Times.

The jury in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., found three other defendants in the case not guilty of sedition and acquitted Rhodes of two separate conspiracy charges.

The split verdicts, coming after three days of deliberations, were a landmark—if not total—victory for the Justice Department, which poured enormous effort into prosecuting Rhodes and his four co-defendants.

The sedition convictions marked the first time in nearly 20 trials related to the Capitol attack that a jury had decided that the violence that erupted on January 6, 2021, was the product of an organized conspiracy.

Seditious conspiracy is the most serious charge brought so far in any of the 900 criminal cases stemming from the vast investigation of the Capitol attack—an inquiry that could still result in scores, if not hundreds, of additional arrests.

Rhodes, 57, also was found guilty of obstructing the certification of the election during a joint session of Congress on January 6 and of destroying evidence in the case. On those three counts, he faces a maximum of 60 years in prison.

Nearly two years after the assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters, the events of January 6 and what led up to them remain at the center of American politics and the subject of multiple investigations, including an inquiry by the Justice Department into any criminal culpability that Trump and some of his allies might face and an exhaustive account being assembled by a House select committee.

The conviction of Rhodes underscored the seriousness and intensity of the effort by pro-Trump forces to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election and was the highest-profile legal reckoning yet from a case related to January 6.

Rhodes was also acquitted of two different conspiracy charges: one that accused him of plotting to disrupt the election certification in advance of January 6 and the other of planning to stop members of Congress from discharging their duties that day.

Taken as a whole, the verdicts suggested that the jury rejected the centerpiece of Rhodes’s defense: that he had no concrete plan on January 6 to disrupt the transfer of presidential power and to keep Joe Biden from entering the White House.

But the jury also made the confusing decision to acquit Rhodes of planning in advance to disrupt the certification of the election yet convict him of actually disrupting the certification process. That suggested that the jurors may have believed that the violence at the Capitol on January 6 erupted more or less spontaneously, as Rhodes has claimed.

In a statement on Tuesday night, Attorney General Merrick Garland noted the convictions against all five defendants. “The Justice Department is committed to holding accountable those criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy on January 6, 2021,” he said.

Research contact: @nytimes

DOJ seeks to speak with Pence as part of January 6 investigation

November 25, 2022

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking testimony from former Vice President Mike Pence for its investigation into Donald Trump’s attempts to stay in power after losing the 2020 presidential election, reports HuffPost.

Sources familiar with the matter confirmed the DOJ’s efforts to The New York TimesCNN, and ABC News on Wednesday, November 23. All reported that Pence, who has developed a fraught relationship with Trump after refusing to support his election fraud claims, is open to the request.

DOJ investigators reportedly contacted Pence before Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel―Jack Smith, who once led the public integrity section―to take over the probe last week. As of now, Pence has not been subpoenaed.

Although he is reportedly open to testifying before the DOJ, Pence has refused to participate in a similar investigation led by a House select committee, saying last week that Congress “has no right to my testimony.”

But that doesn’t mean that Trump is happy about it: Indeed, according to HuffPost, the former president may seek legal avenues to stop Pence from testifying by invoking executive privilege, which at the very least, could stall the DOJ’s efforts to convene with him.

Pence could be a key witness in the investigations into the efforts by Trump and his allies to subvert democracy, including a plan to create a fake slate of pro-Trump electors in several states Biden won in 2020, because of his close communications with the ex-president in the days leading up to January 6, 2021, when an angry mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol with Trump’s encouragement.

Pence detailed many of their exchanges in his recently released book, saying Trump summoned him to meet with attorney John Eastman, who then pressured Pence to block the electoral college certification process in Congress.

Wednesday’s news comes the week after Pence shared that he’s giving “prayerful consideration” to running for president in 2024―a race for which Trump already has announced his candidacy. Pence said there are “better choices” than Trump for president last week when asked if he’d be a good presidential candidate again.

Research contact: @HuffPost