Posts tagged with "US Capitol attack"

DOJ widens January inquiry to range of pro-Trump figures

April 1, 2022

Federal prosecutors have substantially widened their January 6 investigation to examine the possible culpability of a broad range of figures involved in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, reports The New York Times.

The investigation now encompasses the possible involvement of other government officials in Trump’s attempts to obstruct the certification of President Biden’s Electoral College victory and in the push by some Trump allies to promote slates of fake electors, they said.

Prosecutors also are asking about planning for the rallies that preceded the assault on the Capitol, including the rally on the Ellipse on January 6, 2021, just before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

The federal investigation initially focused largely on the rioters who had entered the Capitol—an effort that has led to more than 700 arrests. But the Justice Department appears to have moved into a new phase, seeking information about people more closely tied to Trump. This development comes amid growing political pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland to move more aggressively on the case.

A grand jury sitting in Washington is investigating the rallies that preceded the storming of the Capitol, a person familiar with the matter told the Times.

One of the subpoenas, which was reviewed by The New York Times, sought information about people “classified as VIP attendees” at Trump’s January 6 rally. It also sought information about members of the executive and legislative branches who had been involved in the “planning or execution of any rally or any attempt to obstruct, influence, impede, or delay” the certification of the 2020 election.

And it asked about the effort by Trump supporters to put forward alternate slates of electors as Trump and his allies were seeking to challenge the certification of the Electoral College outcome by Congress on January 6.

Another person briefed on the grand jury investigation said at least one person involved in the logistics of the January 6 rally had been asked to appear.

In pursuing January 6 cases, prosecutors have been assembling evidence documenting how defendants have cited statements from Trump to explain why they stormed the Capitol. And prosecutors have cited in some cases a Twitter post from Trump weeks before January 6 exhorting his followers to come to Washington—a call that motivated extremist groups, in particular.

The expanded criminal inquiry is unfolding just as a separate investigation by the House select committee on the Capitol riot is gathering evidence about Trump’s efforts to hold onto power and weighing the possibility of making a criminal referral of Trump to the Justice Department.

On Monday, March 28,  a federal judge in California, in a civil case involving the House committee, concluded that Trump likely engaged in criminal conduct, including obstructing the work of Congress and conspiring to defraud the United States.

Attorney General Garland has given little public indication of whether the Justice Department would consider prosecuting Trump, saying only that the department will follow the facts wherever they lead.

The House committee’s investigators, like the federal prosecutors, also have been interested in the planning and financing of the January 6 rally on the Ellipse and key figures involved in it. Ali Alexander, a prominent figure in the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” movement and an organizer of the rally, has been cooperating with the House committee. Alexander marched to the Capitol from the rally with Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and Infowars host.

The House panel has also been seeking information from Amy Kremer, the chairwoman of Women for America First, which helped plan the rally.

According to the Times, the committee has also sent subpoenas seeking information to Katrina Pierson, Trump’s former national campaign spokeswoman; Kylie Jane Kremer, the daughter of Amy Kremer and the director of Women for America First; Lyndon Brentnall, the owner of a Florida-based security company who was the “on-site supervisor” for the rally; Maggie Mulvaney, a niece of the former top Trump aide Mick Mulvaney who is listed on the permit for the event; Megan Powers, an operations manager; and Tim Unes, whose company was listed as the stage manager for the gathering.

The criminal charges against rioters so far have ranged from misdemeanors to obstructing Congress in its duty to certify the Electoral College result. The Justice Department also has lodged conspiracy charges against leaders of two of the extremist groups who figured prominently in the Capitol attack, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.

Research contact: @nytimes

In pushback to Trump, Supreme Court allows release of hundreds of January 6 documents

January 21, 2022

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, January 19,  refused a request from former President Donald Trump to block the release of White House records concerning the January 6 attack on the Capitol—effectively rejecting Trump’s claim of executive privilege and clearing the way for the House committee investigating the riot to start receiving the documents hours later, reports The New York Times.

The court, with only Justice Clarence Thomas noting a dissent, let stand an appeals court ruling that Trump’s desire to maintain the confidentiality of internal White House communications was outweighed by the need for a full accounting of the attack and the disruption of the certification of the 2020 electoral count.

In an unsigned order, the majority wrote that Mr. Trump’s request for a stay while the case moved forward presented weighty issues, including “whether and in what circumstances a former president may obtain a court order preventing disclosure of privileged records from his tenure in office, in the face of a determination by the incumbent president to waive the privilege.”

But an appeals court’s ruling against Trump did not turn on those questions, the order said. “Because the court of appeals concluded that President Trump’s claims would have failed even if he were the incumbent, his status as a former president necessarily made no difference to the court’s decision,” the order said.

Within hours of the decision, the National Archives began turning over hundreds of pages of documents to the committee.v A Justice Department spokesperson said on Wednesday evening that the documents had been delivered to the committee. But a spokesperson for the panel said on Thursday morning that the committee had received only some of the documents and expected the rest to be delivered as quickly as the archives could produce them.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman, called the decision “a victory for the rule of law and American democracy.”

“Our work goes forward to uncover all the facts about the violence of January 6 and its causes,” they said.

Research contact: @nytimes

Attorney General Merrick Garland vows to pursue January 6 inquiry ‘at any level’

January 7, 2022

In remarks delivered one day before the first anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot, Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized a commitment to the rule of law and to following the facts wherever they lead, reports The New York Times.

Facing criticism from Democrats and a few Republicans to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for his role in inspiring the riot at the Capitol. Garland vowed on Wednesday that the Justice Department would pursue wrongdoing “at any level,” saying he would defend democratic institutions from attack and threats of violence.

Speaking at Department of Justice headquarters, Garland said:

As we prepare to mark a solemn anniversary tomorrow, it is a fitting time to reaffirm that we at the Department of Justice will do everything in our power to defend the American people and American democracy. The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead. We understand that there are questions about how long the investigation will take and about what exactly we are doing. As long as it takes and whatever it takes for justice to be done consistent with the facts and the law. I understand that this may not be the answer some are looking for.

The attorney general also obliquely addressed critics who have urged him to disclose more about the department’s inquiry, including whether investigators are scrutinizing Trump.

He reiterated that the department would not share details about its findings, even as investigators have issued 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants, inspected over 20,000 hours of video footage and sifted through an estimated 15 terabytes of data. “I understand that this may not be the answer some are looking for,” he said. “But we will and we must speak through our work. Anything else jeopardizes the viability of our investigations and the civil liberties of our citizens.”

While the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack has signaled an openness to making a criminal referral to the department if it comes across evidence that Trump or others broke the law, Garland did not mention Trump or any specific investigation the department might be pursuing.

Garland has never given any substantive public indication of whether or how aggressively the department might be building a case against Trump or his advisers, and it is not clear what charges they could be subject to.

Some Democrats have openly pushed Garland to make clear that he intends to act.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump adviser Peter Navarro lays out how he and Bannon planned to overturn Biden’s electoral win

January 29, 2021

A former Trump White House official says he and right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon were actually behind the last-ditch coordinated effort by rogue Republicans in Congress to halt certification of the 2020 election results on January 6 and keep President Donald Trump in power earlier this year, in a plan dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep.”

In his recently published memoir—In Trump Time, published by All Seasons Press—Peter Navarro, then-President Donald Trump’s trade adviser, details how he stayed in close contact with Bannon as they put the Green Bay Sweep in motion with help from members of Congress loyal to the cause, reports The Daily Beast.

But in an interview last week with The Daily Beast, Navarro shed additional light on his role in the operation—and his and Bannon’s coordination with GOP politicians Representative Paul Gosar (Arizona) and Senator Ted Cruz (Texas).

“We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators. It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them,” Navarro told The Daily Beast. “It was a perfect plan. And it all predicated on peace and calm on Capitol Hill. We didn’t even need any protestors, because we had over 100 congressmen committed to it.”

That commitment appeared as Congress was certifying the 2020 Electoral College votes reflecting that Joe Biden had trunced Trump. Senator Cruz signed off on Gosar’s official objection to counting Arizona’s electoral ballots—an effort that was supported by dozens of other Trump loyalists.

Staffers for Cruz and Gosar did not respond to requests for comment. Also, there’s no public indication whether the January 6 Committee has sought testimony or documents from Senator Cruz or Representative Gosar.

But the committee has only recently begun to seek evidence from fellow members of Congress who were involved in the general effort to keep Trump in the White House—including GOP Representatives Jim Jordan (Ohio) and  Scott Perry (Pennsylvania).

This last-minute maneuvering never had any chance of actually decertifying the election results on its own, a point that Navarro quickly acknowledges. But their hope was to run the clock as long as possible to increase public pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence to send the electoral votes back to six contested states, where Republican-led legislatures could try to overturn the results.

And in their minds, ramping up pressure on Pence would require media coverage. While most respected news organizations refused to regurgitate unproven conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud, this plan hoped to force journalists to cover the allegations by creating a historic delay to the certification process.

“The Green Bay Sweep was very well thought out. It was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings,” he said. “But we thought that we could bypass the corporate media by getting this stuff televised.”

Navarro’s part in this ploy was to provide the raw materials, he said in an interview on Thursday. That came in the form of a three-part White House report he put together during his final weeks in the Trump administration with volume titles like, “The Immaculate Deception” and “The Art of the Steal.”

“My role was to provide the receipts for the 100 congressmen or so who would make their cases .… who could rely in part on the body of evidence I’d collected,” he told The Daily Beast. “To lay the legal predicate for the actions to be taken.” (Ultimately, states have not found any evidence of electoral fraud above the norm, which is exceedingly small.)

The next phase of the plan was up to Bannon, Navarro says. “Steve Bannon’s role was to figure out how to use this information—what he called ‘receipts’—to overturn the election result. That’s how Steve had come up with the Green Bay Sweep idea,” he wrote.

“The political and legal beauty of the strategy was this: By law, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must spend up to two hours of debate per state on each requested challenge. For the six battleground states, that would add up to as much as 24 hours of nationally televised hearings across the two chambers of Congress.”

His book also notes that Bannon was the first person he communicated with when he woke up at dawn on January 6, writing, “I check my messages and am pleased to see Steve Bannon has us fully ready to implement our Green Bay Sweep on Capitol Hill. Call the play. Run the play.”

The rest is history.

Research contact: @thedailybeast